Tamil Nadu

He has made feeding the poor his mission

Noble service: Ram Prasad, a follower of Ramalinga Vallalar, distributing food among the poor in Kanniyakumari district.

Noble service: Ram Prasad, a follower of Ramalinga Vallalar, distributing food among the poor in Kanniyakumari district.  

Ram Prasad, inspired by Vallalar, distributes 15 kg of rice to the hungry in Kanniyakumari every day

Ramalinga Vallalar launched poor feeding in Vadalur in 1867 heartbroken at the sight of “those who could not satiate their hunger even after begging from one house after another”.

Vallalar has since made a tremendous impact on 40-year-old Ram Prasad, a native of Asaripallam in Kanniyakumari district, who has dedicated his life to feeding the poor.

Every day, he cooks 15 kg of rice, prepares sambar and one vegetable curry and distributes it among the poor and destitute. “I have been doing it for the last 10 years. My father and mother help in cooking the food. I carry them in an autorickshaw and go up to Kanniyakumari to feed the poor. It will be enough to feed between 125 and 150 people. My father will always accompany me,” said Ram Prasad, who bought an autorickshaw for the purpose and is paying ₹6,000 as monthly instalment.

Resembling a sanyasi, Mr. Ram Prasad, a follower of Vallalar, wears only whites and sports a flowing beard. Asked how he managed to find money for his service, Mr. Ram Prasad said a few people contribute rice regularly and he visited the APTA market in Nagercoil to collect vegetables.

“Many traders know me and my work and donate vegetables. I need ₹200 a day to buy diesel for the auto,” said Mr. Ram Prasad, who had worked for three years in Dubai before returning to the country to start his work among the poor. His parents were weavers and the family’s financial position did not allow him to pursue any course after passing out of school and he was forced to eke out a living as a plumber and electrician.

“I joined a private ITI with the money I earned as a plumber and the qualification obtained me a job in Dubai,” recalled Mr. Ram Prasad.

But he worked there only for three years as he was already drawn towards the ideas of Ramalinga Vallalar. “I decided to feed the poor and have been doing it for the last 10 years,” he said.

His responsibilities as the elder son was over after getting his three sisters and a brother married. “I have no plans to marry. My objective is to sustain my work. It is my way of following in the footsteps of Vallalar,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 8:44:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/he-has-made-feeding-the-poor-his-mission/article29104496.ece

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