Coronavirus: This 81-year-old man has fed more than 2 million people during the lockdown
The lockdown led by the coronavirus pandemic has left many lives in disarray, especially the migrant labourers — who had to walk home on foot with no food, or water in place.
Subsequently, the Indian government and the Supreme Court took cognisance of their plight, and provided them with food, shelter, and even arranged for special ‘Shramik trains’ to reach home.
During such trying times, many individuals and organisations stepped up to the cause to help these individuals in need. One such person is 81-year-old Baba Karnail Singh Khaira.
Hailing from Karanji in Maharashtra, Khaira Baba has been serving free meals for the last two months at a ramshackle shed on National Highway 7 — the only place that serves meals in a stretch of 450 kilometres.
"This is a remote, tribal region. Behind us for nearly 150 km, and ahead for nearly 300 km, there's not a single dhaba or restaurant. So most people prefer to halt at ‘Guru ka langar,’ and avail of our round-the-clock services," Khaira, popularly known as Khaira Babaji told IANS.
‘Guru ka langar’ is linked with the historic Gurudwara Bhagod Sahib in Wai, Maharashtra —located around 11 km away in a forested area — visited mostly by Sikhs.
The regular langar, managed by Khaira Baba, became a saviour to more than 20 lakh people ever since the Indian government announced the first lockdown on March 24.
"We had hordes of people coming, and we kept continuously cooking food for them... We welcomed all with smiles and folded hands, irrespective of caste, religion... My regular team of 17 'sevaks,' including 11 cooks and other helpers, were overworked but ensured a non-stop supply of fresh, piping hot food," Babaji said, as reported by the Logical Indian.
A wholesome meal of tuvar dal, aloo-vadi, and aloo vanga is served to those who halt for food, along with soaps and borewell water to tired visitors. Based on the disposable plates that were counted, he had served around 15 lakh meals and given out five lakh food parcels, and the number keeps increasing.
The team also feeds stray dogs, cats, cattle, and other animals daily.
His brother Baba Gurbax Singh Khaira, 67, settled in the US, also pitched in with donations from the local Sikh community to keep the services at ‘Guru ka langar’ going.
Khaira Baba believes that it is the ‘marzi’ or God’s will, and we are only instruments in the service to humanity.
“See, three vehicles are donated by devotees to this 'langar'... but my only belongings on Earth are the three sets of clothes. I live and sleep here, and eat the same food served to the people," he said softly.
Around the world, about 6.2 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus. In India, around 1.9 lakh people have tested positive, with over 5,000 deaths reported so far.
Edited by Suman Singh