Chakra:
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Update on Chennai relief efforts

by Sumithra Krishna das
Temple President, ISKCON Chennai

Posted December 27, 2004

Please find attached some pictures of food for life that we did this afternoon at an emergency shelter and at the fisherman's village close to the beach.

The Marina beach actually has a large stretch of sand but the water has come far due to open grounds. Since the place where we are located is mostly residential (bungalows with good stone walls), the water has not travelled very far.

We believe that the presence of the temple, and the spiritual vibrations of our devotees' japa and kirtans in the past have reduced the disaster in our part of the coast.

We distributed prasadam yesterday (very few people turned up for the sunday feast) and today. The prasadam was handed over to the Village Officer and the kichdi prasadam packed in their office. Devotees went along with their food vehicle shelter to shelter, village to village distributing the prasadam. In one village we did kirtan and the fishermen requested us to come everyday and do kirtan. Most of the houses were deserted.

We came across two young men yesterday who narrated their story. This happened right at the spot which devotees frequent.

"Every Sunday, we come here for a swim. Today, after swimming for a while, we came upto our bikes to eat some 'vada' that we had brought with us."

They said that they had parked their bikes about 100 mts. from the ocean where the road ends and the sand starts. As they were eating, they felt water at their feet and were surprised but not bothered. Suddenly they saw the waves rising, and not waiting to start their bikes started pushing it down the road. Unable to push the bikes in the water, they left them and ran for shelter. After the waves receeded, they were able to recover their bikes which had got stuck in a pit as the waves pulled the towards the sea.

Sridhar Shyam prabhu, who found them noticing that they were wet all over, took the opportunity to speak to them and invite them to his bhakti vrksa as they stay in the same area as he.

Two ladies came into the temple carrying their belongings in cloth bundles in a panic, shedding frightened tears. They asked us to direct them to the highest room in the building. But we convinced them that nothing would happen here as we were far from the ocean. Later they took some prasadam and left to their relatives' house.

Thank you for any help you can provide...