Sadhu Feeding for Carol’s Birthday

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Here in India, things are different for birthdays than in the US. One thing is that for important birthdays, it is a custom to perform sadhu feeding (giving something away rather than being concerned with what one is going to get). The other difference is that there is more respect for older people, and turning 60 is of particular significance.

When I asked Rajan, our rickshaw driver and friend, what I should do for Carol’s upcoming 60th birthday, the first thing he suggested was a sadhu feeding – a breakfast. This sounded great to us, so this is what we did.

We asked  Rajan to have these made up at Satya’s Cafe, which is a short bit out Perumpakken Road in Samuthiram Village, not far from Sri Ramanasramam. This is an area in which many westerns stay when visiting Sri Ramanasramam. Satya’s Cafe is owned by Dhakshinamoorthy, a man we work with helping out the Quality of Life Trust in Samuthiram Village.

For the breakfast, we offered three idlies (rice flour dumplings) and a vada (savory lentil-flour ‘doughnut’) These are traditional South Indian foods known from antiquity. They were in a banana leaf, wrapped in newsprint and tied with a string. There was a separate bag of sambar, a savory dipping sauce. We had 60 of these made up, since it was Carol’s 60th birthday.

First we loaded up the rickshaw. Rajan is taking a box from Dhakshinamoorthy to load in the rickshaw.

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Lakshmi, Dhakshinamoorthy’s wife, tied flowers in Carol’s hair.

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Carol is wearing a saree that was gifted to her that morning by Dhakshinamoorthy and Ramesh, another man who works with the Trust (and is a vital part of the team). They also gifted me with a white dhoti and shirt, so we both had new clothes to wear for this day.

Rajan then drove us away. We planned to start up the street from Ramanasramam, at Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram.

Here is Carol giving out the first breakfast. Doesn’t she look great in the saree and flowers?

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More sadhus quickly gathered and were given breakfast.

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We then drove down the road, just past Sri Ramanasramam, where another group of sadhus stay, and started giving out more food.

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As we drove along the road, handing out breakfasts, one sadhu indicated we should bring some food to another, still sleeping by the road.

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More giving of food.

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On the other side of the road is another temple where sadhus gather. We stopped to hand out more breakfasts.

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Then we continued driving down Bangalore Road, passing out meals one or two at a time.

This woman could not walk.

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Another sadhu, distinguished in appearance.

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We stopped at the entrance to the Children’s Park. We knew a sadhu stayed here, and sat not watching the road, so Carol got out and brought him a breakfast package. He gave her his blessing.

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More breakfasts given, along the road.

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And at the next shrine. This sadhu thanks us with a great smile.

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Some poor women came up. We gave them food as well.

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I think they frequent this shrine, sweeping and taking care of it. And begging for their livelihood.

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Now we turned onto Girivalam Road, and stopped  by a shrine to  bring breakfast to the attending priest.

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We drove along Girivalam Road, handing  out breakfasts one at a time. There are only a few left now.

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We stopped by another shrine, this one next to a big tank, with a wonderful Nandi facing the shrine (not in the photo).

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We handed out the last of the breakfasts to one of the many sadhus who sit on these concrete benches beside the road. There were more sadhus here, but not enough breakfasts.

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It took maybe 15 minutes to give out the breakfasts. And we could have given out many more than we had made up this day.

This was such a good morning, and such a wonderful way to start out the day of Carol’s birthday. It was a simple thing to do, but so worthwhile. We will do it again, only have more packages made up. 108 is an auspicious number, so maybe we will bring 108 breakfasts next time.

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One Response to “Sadhu Feeding for Carol’s Birthday”

  1. edakehurst Says:

    Thank you VERY much for sharing this! It sounds like such a wonderful day!

    Harih OM

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