Devotees in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario in Canada are doing their part to help their local community during the COVID-19 pandemic by feeding prasadam to essential personnel like hospital staff and sanitation workers.
Home to Sri Sri Radha-Braja Vatsala, Sri Sri Sita Ram Lakshman Hanuman, and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, the ISKCON temple in Thunder Bay is the only temple in Northwestern Ontario.
Temple president Prem Kishor Das also works as a pathologist specializing in cancer tissue diagnosis at the local hospital, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
Devotees provided prasadam for distribution at the centre, which is a teaching hospital and specializes in cancer care, on April 15th.
“Five devotees, including myself and my wife, were involved in the preparation and delivery of the prasadam,” says Dr. Prem Kishor. “We wanted to serve prasad which we could cook with limited manpower, so we made vegetable pakoras, samosas and burfi, providing enough so the healthcare workers could have as much as they want.”
Devotees cooked the prasad at their certified kitchen facility, while wearing masks, caps and gloves, and then delivered it to the hospital, where it was picked up by the cafeteria manager and distributed by the cafeteria staff.
“The regular cafeteria food was closed down that day, so they served out only the prasad which we donated to them,” Prem Kishor says.
Although the exact numbers who took prasadam are unknown, the hospital has a total of 3,000 staff.
Many responded with deep gratitude and appreciation to the devotees’ service on Facebook, including nurses, administration staff, doctors and others.
“Thank you very much for your generosity!” read one comment. “As a hospital cafeteria worker, it was so amazing to see all of the staff truly enjoy their food. It was so good to see them smile during this stressful time! You guys are amazing!”
“I’d type more but I can’t see well through my tears,” another commented. “Really outstanding job! Thank you! Community taking care of community!”
“Thank you so much for your generous donation – everything was delicious!” a third said. “We all really appreciate your thoughtful gesture to the hospital staff.”
Staff also thanked Dr. Prem Kishor in person, and he received a letter of appreciation from the hospital administration.
Next, on May 5th, the auspicious day of Nrsimha Chaturdasi, devotees delivered prasadam to the local sanitation office to be distributed to the Thunder Bay sanitation workers.
“We wanted to appreciate their help in these difficult times,” Prem Kishor says.
As the saying goes, the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, and when that offering of love is prasadam, it’s sure to be remembered for a long, long time.
“When we contribute something to the community, it creates a bond, and gives people a positive image of our activities,” says Prem Kishor.
“What’s more, kindness is very important during this time, when people are suffering. One of the 26 qualities of a devotee is that they are kind to everyone. Whatever we can do, whether it’s prasadam distribution, giving masks, or donating money, we should. On a personal level, I donated 1.5 lakh rupees of personal protective equipment to a rural, very remote hospital in India where they don’t have any resources. In my experience, whenever we do any kind activities, it helps us in our Krishna conscious outreach, as well as in our personal Krishna consciousness.”[ hospital ] [ ontario ] [ prasadam ] [ sanitation ]