At 11.30am, everything is ready and the first local children have arrived. When the children see the bicycle rickshaws bringing the pots and cooking equipment to the Ashram in the mornings, they come and check with the guards to see if there will be a program today, then spread the news to their friends, family and neighbors.
Once this begins the children are very quickly calmed and organised and they begin to sit on the cloths laid out for this purpose. As soon as the first 3 or 4 children sit down and stay, the others all quickly follow. Although still noisy, demanding and filled with exuberance they settle as the plates and cups are placed before them, and the food begins to be served.
Once the potato, eggplant and spinach curry, the puri (Indian fried bread), water and the khir (spiced rice pudding) are served, the blessing of the food begins. This always ends in a rousing chorus of ‘Sai Maa ki Jai’ which seems to get louder each time and is followed almost immediately by the joyous chatter and the constant banter of this boisterous group of children.
There are less children at today’s program, which is usual as the summer heat increases. The children come gradually over a longer period, but by the end of the program approximately 100 children have still been fed today. The food is also served to the elderly and others in need in the area, including an unusually large number of people with physical ailments and a number of visiting sadhus passing through Harishchandra Ghat. All together the total number of people we serve today reaches 155 when all the available food is exhausted.