This year Sai Maa and Just One have together offered meals to 220 people at the Ashram. Potato chickpea and vegetable curry was accompanied by fresh ‘poori’ (fried Indian bread) and warm ‘khir’(milk and rice pudding with dried fruits and lotus seeds). The food was warmly received over a 90 minute period with a steady stream of people arriving until the food was complete.
As always the first round served was the biggest and the seating area was almost completely full. There were over 80 seated in just this first serving, and the general feeling was one of noisy, boisterous camaraderie. The only silence was during the chant to bless the meal. Once the thunderous ‘Sai Mata ki Jai’ completed the chant, the children began chattering gaily, loudly bossing each other and trying to boss the servers as well. However most of our servers are local residents and are familiar with these children, so it is all done in a most light hearted manner even though demanding in tone.
Once this first group completes, the tone softens. Most of the local children arriving early have little discipline in their lives. Add to this the desire to get attention, and it becomes a recipe for boisterous behaviour. But later more adults begin to bring their children and the children accompanying their parents are also more disciplined. The adults are mostly humble and grateful for receiving the nutritious meal. What I do notice amongst both groups – even amongst the younger children – is how many acknowledge and recognise Sai Maa for the nutritious meal today – the lead up to Guru Purnima. It reminds me again how much this gratitude and appreciation for the Divine remains part of the Indian psyche even as their lives move into more busy worldly ways.