Sunday, July 4, 2010


The other day I was watching a Food & Travel show hosted by the famous Padma Lakshmi. She was in Udipi and inside a 400 year old kitchen. I googled to know more about this temple which gives free food for all devotees irrespective of caste, color, religion or whatever divisions the world has given to the human being over the years. I could not get more information and the closest find was the Dharmashala and the Krishna temple. Upon searching for Dharmashala, I was delighted to land on GVK’s blog and a blog post that I had missed reading. He has given an account of his visit to the Dharmashala and put up some pictures too for the readers.

To many, Udupi brings to mind the lovely vegetarian “thali”.

We have these restaurants here in Kuwait too, though I am not sure if they are indeed serving authentic “Udipi” meal . But it is only when you eat such a meal do you realize how vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways and how delicious it is to eat them. I read the following on the Udipi cuisine: This cuisine was developed by Shivalli Madhwa Brahmins who cooked food for Lord Krishna, and at Krishna Matha in Udupi, the food is provided free. I was much intrigued to know that it was the pujaris themselves who cooked these meals and that these meals are given to all and sundry free of cost. Normally none is allowed inside this kitchen but I do know how Padma was given an entry. But it provided a good look inside one of the oldest functioning kitchen in the world and one could see big pots and pans and the poojaris in various stages of cooking. The meal was also served by them and it was done so efficiently. The speed at which the rice and accompaniments were served on the banana leaf to the waiting devotees is awesome. I hear that more than 1000 are fed thus daily. ( I could not get more information on this anywhere and hence I am assuming that this is a daily affair)

The money for this is from the devotees themselves. I am also not sure if there are many such temples which provide free meals. The idea itself is very heart warming. Since India has a long way to go on hunger and poverty, I am hoping that more places of worship catch up on this idea. The closest to this that I have come across in a Church is during special days like Easter, Good Friday etc. But then the food is served only to the devotees.

While thinking about the money that the faithful puts into the coffers of famous pilgrimage centers, would it not do wonders if it was used to feed the needy! After all, isn’t the need of food the most basic and the most important, unless of course you have acquired the skills of the Swamis who claim to eat nothing. And I believe it would be only a few who would continue depending on this since most would eventually stand on their own feet. And it is also a fact that believers of all religion give happily to a Temple/Church/Mosque more readily than to a real person in need. And the sad fact is that we seldom care what happens to this money. Some of us believe ardently that building a Church worth crores is more important than giving the same money to the poor.

But then isn’t it only a wishful thinking? And my dreams of seeing for example the Christian priests cook and serve food to strangers needs to be squashed right away before I am accused of mental illness :)

Source: Wikepedia


  1. I agree, money donated by devotees is put to good use when it is used to feed the needy- whether they are devotees of that particular temple or not.

    I am reminded of a news report I read a while back. Gurdwaras in England supply free food to thousands of Indian students who are unable to find work- due to the recession- to fund their stay there.

  2. Manju: I am sure there are places of worship put to good use.. but I am yet to see one like this Dharmashala...

  3. Nice post; like you say this idea can be picked up and followed by other places of worship.

  4. Danam or religious gifting is a must in most religions and this is what drives these events. Zakat is monetary gifting in Islam, and I am sure the concept exists in Christianity too...

  5. nice article, especially for i like reading about food in general. :) I think some Iskon temples also distribute food free (or for a very nominal price)

  6. RM: Thank u! yes for sure this can be replicated since much money comes into famous pilgrimage centres...

    Maddy: Yes it is the "tithe" or 1/10th of what one earns..

    Gauri: Yes.. there could be similar places of worship where food is given..

    but it is also strange that the does not have much info on this temple/dharmashala.. guess such good deeds seldom reach the mass


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