Kolkata, Oct 23 : Panta Bhat, very traditional dish of Bengal is served as prasadam at the headquarters of International Society for Krishna Consciousness Mayapur, Nadia.
During the early days of ISKCON at Mayapur in early 1970s, the founder Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness ( ISKCON) , His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad had tears in his eyes when he saw a group of boys snatching food from the mouth of a dog.
He expressed his desire to disciples that in future ISKCON should ensure that within a 10km radius of the Chandradaya temple at Mayapur no one should sleep empty stomach.
The devotees headed by His Holiness JayaPataka Swami , GBC and Co-Director of Mayapur project , toiled hard over the last 4 decades to ensure that his Guru's ( Srila Prabhupad's ) instructions are followed verbatim.
ISKCON Mayapur has six kitchens for mass distribution of MahaPrasadam and a Govinda's restaurant that caters to pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Other than this the management has also started "Pantashree Prokolpo" , a free distribution of meal.
The objective behind starting "Pantashree Prokolpo" was to offer variety to the people , who come from different parts of the world, with a traditional dish of Bengal". Further since it is distributed free of cost it is also aimed to reach the lowest in the economic pyramid, who do not have sufficient purchasing power, informed Alay Govind Das, Chairman of the programme.
People are served with "Panata bhat", rice soaked overnight in cold water and lemon juice, with a seasonal sabzi or alu chokha, pickle, chilli and a pakora. During extreme summer to beat the scorching heat many pilgrims and tourists who cannot afford a cold beverage to keep themselves cool savour a full stomach of this bhat here.
Foreign devotees have also been relishing Panta bhat as prasadam with great enthusiasm. A resident Australian devotee Sri Madhava Gauranga Das, Dean of Gurukula, savours Panta Bhat on a regular basis as he feels it does not bloat the stomach yet keeps it filled till late afternoon.
With the popularity of "Pantashree" gaining ground, not only travellers but also local people from different communities frequent the place.(UNI)