The nationwide lockdown has affected lakhs of people and left them without any income, any place to stay and most importantly, anything to eat.
To help thousands of such people stranded in Pune without any income or food, the Gurudwara Guru Singh Sabha Ganeshpeth is using its langar services to feed the homeless, daily wage earners and migrant workers. The langar is also open for medical staff, police personnel and civic workers.
Earlier this month, an unanimous decision was taken by all the gurudwaras in Pune to suspend public langars in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. But Gurudwara Guru Singh Sabha has restarted the langar to feed the hungry. Each day, food is cooked for nearly 3,000 to 4,000 people, packed by the sevadars (volunteers) and distributed among people with the help of welfare organisations and NGOs around the city.
Sumit Hora, a sevadar at the Gurudwara Guru Singh Sabha, said every morning, five to six individuals come to the gurudwara to prepare the food while 10 to 12 sevadars help make food packets. “The complete lockdown has affected the daily wage earners, the poor, homeless and migrant workers the most. It became essential for us to start the langar services for those in need. A few of us took permission from authorities so that we can come here and prepare the food in bulk. There were times when we were unable to do so due to the restrictions but we made sure we continued trying,” he said.
Hora said after they decided to prepare langar for those in need, they circulated a message and a contact number so that people could reach out to them. “Initially, we distributed ration items to the people for seven days and later, we began langar services. We received help from several relief groups, disaster management bodies and NGOs which are helping us distribute the food packets. They collect the packets from us and their volunteers distribute them. We make sure that the food packets reach the right place,” he said.
So far, the langar service has distributed thousands of food packets to daily wage earners, migrant workers, the homeless, slum dwellers and women in red light areas. “We receive more requirements each day and we wish to continue till the pandemic gets over,” said Hora.
Gurmeet Kaur Virdi, another sevadar, said while the initiative has witnessed several people coming together to help those in need, she wished that people contributed food from their own homes as well. “I have been doing seva by putting together food packets for a few days… I hope that the situation does not get worse and we can continue to go out to prepare the langar… but those of us who can help as much as they can from home, should come forward and do so,” she said.
Hora also highlighted that as April 13 is the spring harvest festival of Baisakhi, some volunteers will celebrate it by drawing circles outside shops and medicals to maintain social distancing. “Since we cannot go out and celebrate, we might as well celebrate this way,” he said.
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