The arrival of lakhs of devotees to Tumakuru's Siddaganga Mutt to pay last respects to Shivakumara Swamy following his demise on Monday posed a problem for both mutt and government authorities.
While the Siddaganga Mutt set up a kitchen to provide food for lakhs of devotees arriving at the mutt, this was not going to be enough. It was then that residents of Tumakuru, mostly devotees of the 111-year-old seer, decided to provide food for devotees in tents set up in different parts of the city.
In one such tent, volunteers were busy preparing pongal in the morning. "We are serving devotees because the Swamiji's main concept was to serve. We are trying to serve 400 people in our tent. We have pongal and we are making more varieties throughout the day. We are also working in a centralised manner in which all tents ensure that people don't go hungry. Swamiji did not want anyone to go hungry and being devotees we should also be doing it," Siddarth, a volunteer in a tent set up on Tumakuru- Bengaluru Main Road told India Today.
He added that devotees hope to take forward Shivakumara Swamy's humanitarian work. "People also require water to drink. We are keeping water ready also for them. A person who is hungry should get food, a person who is uneducated needs education. This is what Swamy believed," he added.
Shops and hotels in Tumakuru were shut down on account of the seer's death while there were holidays for schools and government offices across the state. The partial shutdown in the city stretched resources, both at the mutt and in the main area of the city. The mutt is around five kilometres from the city.
The Siddaganga mutt authorities provided food round the clock for lakhs of devotees in and around the mutt area and along with the help of several volunteer groups, managed the influx of devotees to the city.
Shivakumara Swamy was known for his humanitarian work, particularly in ensuring access to education for underprivileged children. He passed away on Monday at the age of 111 and was cremated with state honours on Tuesday.