Krishna Pushkaram-2016 presented some inspiring case studies with the free food distribution for pilgrims standing out as the best.
A staggering 68,21,714 persons were provided food in the first nine days of the 12-day river festival in Vijayawada, the central point of the Pushkaram in Andhra Pradesh, Krishna district Joint Collector Gandham Chandrudu told PTI.
By the end of the festival on the August 23, the aggregate number is expected to cross over 90 lakh.
This is a record of sorts and the entire exercise is now being documented so that it could find place in the Guinness World Records, the official said.
In the Amritsar Golden Temple, one lakh pilgrims are provided free food, the same in Tirumala. About 50,000 to one lakh pilgrims are served everyday at Dharmasthala Manjunatha temple in Karnataka and about 40,000 in Shirdi in Maharashtra.
The food distribution during Krishna Pushkaram clearly eclipsed those numbers.
On August 18, the highest number of 9,91,440 pilgrims were served free food and yesterday the number was 9,54,990, Chandrudu said.
Everything was meticulously planned and executed by a core team comprising Krishna district Joint Collector, district Supplies Officer Ravi Kiran and Assistant Supplies Officer Komali Padma, with Pushkaram Special Officer B Rajasekhar guiding them.
Pilgrims rated the food as excellent, very good and good with not one adverse remark or complaint about the quality or quantity.
The fare dished out also had a good variety from upma and hot pongal for breakfast to regular meal, tamarind rice, tomato rice and even vegetable biryani for lunch and dinner.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is also occasionally supplying a special sweet item rava kesari. The TTD’s food is rated excellent by pilgrims on all days.
Iskcon-affiliate Akshaya Patra Foundation and TTD were the main food providers serving about 3.5 lakh pilgrims a day, while over 50 other organisations like Lion’s Club, BSR Infratech and Rice Millers’ Association also did their bit.
Besides, individuals also arranged food for 500 to 5000 people daily.
“The government is paying Rs 10 for a 250-gram meal and we have also arranged for supply of LPG cylinders at a subsidised price of Rs 750 each. All others are providing the food free,” Chandrudu said.
“We have ensured there are no loose ends and tied up everything very well. Detailed planning has gone into all logistics, the important being transportation of food from special kitchens to all the supply points. Apart from 21 Pushkar Nagars, 60 other points were notified where food was distributed,” Chandrudu said.
A team of officials, led by a deputy collector-rank officer, was stationed at the kitchens to taste and certify the food before it was sent to the respective distribution points.
“This is the first time that the TTD has constructed a kitchen outside Tirumala and provided free food to devotees. On an average we fed 1.25 lakh pilgrims per day during the Krishna Pushkaram,” TTD Joint Executive Officer K Srinivasa Raju pointed out.
“It is all God’s grace,” he remarked.