Incessant rains pelted the South Indian state of Karnataka from late July until August 13th, causing widespread flooding, a death toll of 76, and damage to over 75,000 homes. According to the government of Karnataka the disaster has caused a loss of around 50,000 Crore rupees.
The ISKCON temple in the city of Belgaum was not affected by the flood, no devotees were harmed, and there was no major damage to any devotee homes. But with the inspiration and guidance of Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, devotees got to work helping the less fortunate.
“In Belgaum district, 15 to 20 people died, and there was damage to property, livestock, and crops,” says Prema Rasa Das, a member of the ISKCON Belgaum temple management committee. “As soon as we came to know of the devastation, we started distributing prasadam to the needy people.”
Devotees would begin cooking at six o’clock each morning, then pack and distribute rice pulao (a rice and vegetable dish) to people throughout the district. Over eight days, they distributed prasad to over 65,000 people.
“We also gave out clothes, blankets, medicine and water bottles along with the food,” Prema Rasa says. “And although we couldn’t go on Harinam Sankirtan because all our resources were being used up, we did perform kirtan in the temple for everyone’s benefit.”
Inspired by ISKCON stepping up, many other local NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) expressed their appreciation and came forward to help in the effort. College students and neighbors also volunteered to assist in packing and distributing prasadam, while others donated money and ingredients.
All these activities increased the positive perception of ISKCON’s mission in the area, and drew newspaper reporters from The Times of India in English and the Tarun Bharat in Marathi, who interviewed Bhakti Rasamrita Swami and published stories about the relief effort.
As far as the situation now, Prema Rasa says: “It’s stable. The rain has completely stopped, the water is receding, and life is going back to normal. Of course, the property damage that has happened will take some time to recover.”