Theliana-Bajardiha is a village of the ‘rag-picker’ caste. ‘Rag-picker’ doesn’t just denote cloth, but includes all kinds of recyclable material. Newspapers, plastic bottles, cloth- anything recyclable- is gathered and sold to provide income.
The significance of our feeding today is not lost on me. We have a female Guru, Sai Maa or Mataji as Maa is reverently known in India, of a Hindu lineage in a predominately masculine Shiva city, sponsoring a feeding organized by Western Brahmacharis in partnership with a local Catholic organization, to serve this marginalized Muslim community. Mataji is a champion for breaking down cultural barriers and misconceptions.
Today there are about 150 children. Father Dilraj from ASMITA arrived at 7am to prepare and the children are in great spirits when I arrive. They greet me joyfully and enthusiastically. Everyone wants to shake my hand. By the end of the feeding a group of boys is following me everywhere, despite the remonstrations of the adults who think that they are bothering me. They all want photos and to play games on the cell phone, but mostly they just want the attention and love being poured into them through the grace of Sai Maa.