With India in a 21-day Coronavirus lockdown, ISKCON temples have stepped up to feed the needy in cooperation with the Indian government, distributing over one million plates of prasad so far.
The government began with a quarantine in 79 districts across India recognized as COVID-19 hotspots, before officially locking down the entire nation – 1.3 billion people – on March 23rd in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
As in many other parts of the world, people have been advised to stay in their homes apart from trips to buy groceries or other essential commodities, and all factories, places of worship and non-essential markets and shops are now closed.
According to Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, writing for sciencemag.org, “Millions of Indians who depend on each day’s wages for their daily meal were thrown out of work. Migrant workers packed buses and trains home, potentially taking the virus into rural areas. And as transport options dried up, many families in New Delhi and other major cities simply began to walk to their distant villages, with little access to food.”
To stop migrant workers spreading the virus, the government put those crossing state borders in a fourteen-day quarantine, providing them with accommodation and two meals a day. To help feed these migrant workers as well as other needy people, a number of ISKCON temples stepped up, with the Ministry of Home Affairs connecting them with local district administrations.
So far, twenty-one ISKCON temples are participating, including Delhi, Juhu and Chowpatty in Mumbai, Govardhan Eco Village, Kanpur, Trivandrum, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad Farm, Baroda, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow.