Founder, His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswathi
We walked up the spiral staircase. And entered into a huge elongated hall bustling with people and chatter. Work was in progress in the spanking new hall, so standing makeshift lights helped to give more light to the slightly dark hall. 3 tables covered with tablecloth and topped with a protective plastic , with chairs stretched the entire length of the hall.
'Wow! a banana leaf banquet!' That was my first impression.
Must admit it was the biggest, longest banana leaf lunch for me to witness. Young and old , dressed in saris, salwar khameez, kurtas and kurtis were happily enjoyng the festive mood.
A Banana Leaf Banquet
We were warmly invited to partake of the lunch. Amidst the hive of activity, with people going in and out, there was an air of calm, organised work among the volunteers of TFA. If anything, it was their attentiveness to all the guests that caught my attention. Each volunteer had their designated tasks.
Volunteers, ready to serve
First, the table was wiped. Then came the fresh looking banana leaf. A sweet young girl placed a spoonful of mango chutney in a corner of the leaf. Beside her was a volunteer with a gentle reminder, 'Just a little. Place it neatly.' And to us, 'They 're learning. We're teaching them young.' We thanked her with a 'well done' smile.
Soon our banana leaf was a 'plateful' of yummy food - dhall, sambar, banana crisps, appalam, ? cucumber raita, and a nice mound of rice . To finish off the meal was a small tub of payasam dessert. Molly enjoyed the creamy dessert.
The volunteers were attentive. Feeding a constant flowing crowd is not for the faint-hearted. And done with love and devotion,the sweat evident on the faces and clothes didn't seem to matter.
No, it ain't heavy
A little boy came along with a pitcher of water to top up our cups. Standing barely waist above the table, he was a great volunteer indeed. Catch them young!
As for me, I polished everything off the banana leaf. Am pretty deft eating with fingers with practice at home. Molly looked to me and said, ' I'm following you.' She did well herself.
So ended a free lunch at the TFA. Thank you. But more than that. I'm pretty sure we too were blessed together with the Indian community who had gathered to remember their beloved Founder, His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswathi.