Nitya Annadana Or Daily Mass Feeding Programme
Did you know that worldwide about 300 million children go to sleep hungry every day and every 3.6 seconds a person dies of starvation, and this is usually a child under the age of five? As the UNICEF states - "Poverty contributes to malnutrition, which in turn is a contributing factor in over half of the under-five deaths in developing countries." Of the total number of people who die from starvation, only eight per cent are victims of famine or other emergency situations. More than 90 per cent are suffering from long-term malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency. 20% of children aged less than 5 years suffer from acute malnutrition (wasting) and 48% are chronically malnourished (stunted), according to WHO data.
In spite of the many initiatives taken by the Government, such is the situation in India which is also a developing country. Here many families living below the poverty line are not fortunate enough to have even one meal a day. It hurts to see people go hungry and beg for food. To address this issue the project of Nitya Annadana or Daily Mass Feeding was begun under the compassionate guidance of, Parama Pujya Shri Shri Nimishananda Guruji at Shri Nimishananda Ashram, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bangalore, India. 'Anna' means rice or food and 'Dana' means to give or offer. In the Nitya Annadana programme free lunch is provided every day to the under-privileged and needy. More than 24,000 people benefit from this programme every month.
Parama Pujya Shri Shri Nimishananda Guruji says – "Today it is very difficult to distinguish between man’s need and man’s greed. The only time we say 'That’s enough' is at the end of a good meal when we are too full to eat any more. So the charity through which we can satisfy a person completely is Annadana."
In earlier times this tradition was followed without fail by every temple in Indian villages at least once or twice a year. All the villagers who could afford it would contribute by giving food grains or money to perform Annadana. It brought prosperity to the whole village and their lives would be healthy, peaceful and free from problems. In this way they made the culture of caring and sharing a natural part of their lives, but most of us have forgotten this humane practice today.
Apart from satisfying the hunger of thousands of people, this food served at the Ashram is also charged with the blessings of the Divine Mother Nimishamba and Parama Pujya Shri Shri Nimishananda Guruji. Therefore it alleviates the karma of all those who partake of it whether they are aware of it or not. Parama Pujya Shri Shri Nimishananda Guruji says – “When we are fortunate enough to be served food, there is one very important thing that we should all remember. The Anna Prasada that is served in Ashrams is not eaten merely to satisfy our hunger or please the palate. Every grain of food we eat there is filled with divine grace that dissolves our karma and transforms our lives in innumerable ways.”