Abhishekam and The Hungry Feeds

In olden days, Rajyabhishek used to be performed for royal coronation in some kingdoms.

But Abhishekam or Abhisheka is a custom still practised routinely in some religious institutions around the world, either as a ‘bathing ceremony and anointing of the deity being worshipped’ (sanctification) or as an ‘esoteric transmission’ (empowerment of the disciple).

Depending on the type of Abhishekam, the libations on deities could be holy-water, milk, yoghurt, ghee, panchaamrutam, honey, sesame oil, rosewater, sandalwood-paste, etc. Among all these items, it terribly hurts us to know and to see buckets of milk being poured on the deities. It ultimately goes down the drains, leaving both the calves and the children hungry on the pavements, some right in the temple’s premises !!

Moreover, this milk comes from cows that are considered as the most sacred of animals and even worshipped as ‘divine mothers’ (gow-mataa) as per certain beliefs and customs. By pouring all those milk for Abhishekam and keeping the calves and our children malnourished, aren’t we being dishonest, selfish and treating our gow-mataa disrespectfully ?

Many argue that the milk and other liquids are collected after the Abhishekam. Even if it is somehow done and converted into ‘Prasadam’, hygiene cannot be guaranteed ! And token amounts of such offerings by each one of us shall lead to a huge wasteful quantity at the end !!

Folks- is preserving such rituals meaningful than filling the empty stomachs of the calves and feeding the hungry mouths of teeming millions ?

As the human race holds big conferences to eradicate hunger and poverty from the whole world, why can’t we sensibly contribute by altogether doing away with offerings of milk (and its derivatives) and similar practices ? Like ‘money saved is money earned’, ‘food saved is also food generated’.

And with increasing or unresolved demographic, economic and environmental crisis, that is what Time also now demands of us…

Let us engage ourselves on a little introspection and thoughtfully hear our Conscience……perhaps the Lord’s answer lies within !!!

Aamjunta – what do you say ?


Waste Mat Karo, Taste Karo…

It was 8th Aug, 1990, I joined Wst Hostel at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Was stepping into a new life — a life other than my home. I had just completed my 10th at the time. In the initial days of my hostel life, I was unable to cope up mainly with the life style and hostel food. Food was (is) never bad, only that the preparation was not as per my taste, which was tuned to Mom’s kitchen. But, over the years, I’ve changed my food habit as well as my taste buds. Nothing great about that; this happens if you stay in hostel for more than 15 years 🙂 . Now, I love hostel food. However, that does not mean, I do not have cribs. Yes, some time I too have cribs, like, “that item is bad, this is more oily, no green veg, chapati is not properly baked, rice is half cooked,” etc., etc… Very common cribs among regular hostelites.

Enjoying and cribbing over food is natural, and we do that in home, hotel or hostel. But, there is a difference in cribbing over food and wasting food. We waste food everywhere — home/hotel/hostel. Even the best preparations in the best banquets are also sometimes wasted. But, in this article I have basically concentrated on the food wastage in hostels.

One can observe the amount of food that gets wasted per day in a hostel and can collect the data of this wastage, the results might be appalling. The amount of wastage in bigger hostels are really big and are easily noticeable. In small hostels too there are food wastage, but hardly any one cares to notice that properly. I am reproducing here some of our observations based on the statistics of Hostel-12/13 mess of IIT Bombay.

To know the exact amount of wastage and the pattern of wastage in our hostel (Hostel 12-13, IIT Bombay), the mess team started taking a stock of it. Every day, the mess team weighs the entire wasted food per meal (breakfast, lunch, tiffin and dinner separately) and reports the same in the mess notice board. Just to give an idea of the amount of food we waste in our mess, I inquired with the Mess Manager and requested him to give me a month’s detail. Thought of putting a week’s data here:

Date Breakfast Lunch Tiffen Dinner Total
01/04/09 16 Kg 50 Kg 10 Kg 45 Kg 121 Kg
02/04/09 15 Kg 45 Kg 14 Kg 52 Kg 126 Kg
03/04/09 20 Kg 55 Kg 12 Kg 50 Kg 127 Kg
04/04/09 18 Kg 48 Kg 10 Kg 55 Kg 131 Kg
05/04/09 21 Kg 45 Kg 20 Kg 60 Kg 146 Kg
06/04/09 17 Kg 50 Kg 10 Kg 45 Kg 122 Kg
07/04/09 20 Kg 48 Kg 09 Kg 55 Kg 132 Kg

With the average per day per meal of 800 mess members, the amount of food wastage one see in the above table is definitely a matter of huge concern. In an average day, the amount of food we waste in the hostel is around 130 Kg, which might be sufficient of another 400+ meals!! That means, every 4 person who eat in our mess waste food sufficient to feed one more person. Is not this statistics alarming? When people in this country die of hunger, a small mess like H-12/H-13 wastes food sufficient for 400 people daily. If you extrapolate this statistics to other hostels of IIT Bombay, then I wonder how much food we waste daily. There are roughly 5000 inmates and 14 hostels in IIT Bombay!

Many students justify the wastage, saying “the quality of food is not good”; “we are paying, so we will waste”; “why should the mess manager makes the profit alone?”, etc., etc… Are these excuses of educated people acceptable? On my part, I simply reject all these excuses. These are in-human!

One should remember that food wastage is not only a local issue, it is also a national issue. There should be an awareness campaign on this aspect. In fact, the mess team had started an awareness campaign in H-12/H-13 mess. They write articles in institute magazines and keep on putting various quotes/photos in the mess with “save food” campaign. Yes, the wastage has gone down after that, but not significantly. The statistics I’m showing here is based on data of the post-awareness campaign. Just imagine, the amount of wastage we had before!!😦

In my last post “Mumbai Blues“, I had narrated the incident of an old man looking for food in garbage/dust bins. In a country like India and in a continent like Asia which faces the biggest challenge of poverty, malnutrition and shortage of food, can we afford such a dangerous luxury of food wastage?

Aamjunta, what is your take on this? What do you say on my quote “Waste Mat Karo, Taste Karo”? Do share your views.

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