More then 30,000 meals served under FIA’s ‘Diwali Soup Kitchen’ program.

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FIA members Prabir Roy, Saurin Parikh, Dr. Pravin Pandhi at Westbury Soup Kitchen, part of Federation of Indian Associations’ sewa drive for Diwali in 2021, starting Oct. 15 and continuing into November 2021. Photo: FIA

The Federation of Indian Associations held its second edition of “Diwali Soup Kitchen-Spreading Lights of Happiness” celebrating the traditional Indian ‘Festival of Lights’ by serving others both in India and the United States.

Volunteers for soup kitchen in Vadododara, Gujarat, Photo: FIA

The FIA initiative which began in mid-October, is ongoing and being implemented in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New England, as well as in the Indian states of Bihar and Gujarat. In fact, from Bihar, the government requested the help from FIA, Desi Talk learned.

Through this program, the FIA engaged with and helped expand the work being done by eight state-recognized soup kitchens, complimenting their meal provisions so that more people in need could be served.  Several of these soup kitchens sent letters thanking the FIA for helping.

The Diwali Soup Kitchen drive started Oct. 15, 2021, and it is still continuing with the latest ones being held in Patna and Darbhanga in Bihar on Nov. 6 and 7 respectively, delivering close to 10,000 meals over the two days.

Haresh Shah, Anil Bansal, Kenny Desai (left to right). Photo: FIA

In total, more than 30,000 meals were distributed by the Federation of Indian Associations, the FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya told Desi Talk.

Some of the Soup Kitchens with which FIA worked in the U.S. are, “The Salvation Army”-New York, “Trenton Soup Kitchen”-New Jersey, “Open Doors Shelter”- Connecticut, “Eva’s Soup Kitchen”- New Jersey, “Diversity Plaza”- New York.

In India one of the soup kitchens was organized at Manav Mitra Mandal, Motera, Ahmedabad on Oct. 24, 2021, where 500 meals were distributed by the volunteers.

Several other soup kitchens were held on November 1, at various other locations in Ahmedabad, among them Vadaj, Sindhu Bhavan Road and Bopal where 1,000 meals were distributed on that day. The soup kitchen in Vadodara was held on Oct. 28.

In Norwalk, Connecticut, a soup kitchen was held with FIA support on Oct. 22, 2021 and at Trenton, N.J., Soup Kitchen on Oct. 21.

The Soup Kitchen at Paterson, N.J., was organized on Nov. 2, 2021. The one at Port Chester, N.Y. was held Oct. 28.

The Soup Kitchen at Westbury, N.Y. took place on Oct. 27.

A total of four Soup Kitchens were held in New York and New Jersey that were repeated in Trenton and Port Chester.

“These soup kitchens are ecstatic. The one in Paterson asked for Indian meals as they had received a high demand asking for them,” Vaidya said.

“Our goal is to expand this program to 50,000 meals internationally. We have the knowledge, and we want to tell the Indian, and the Hindu community that we should engage in the art of giving during such festivals, to link with other Americans, and with the mainstream,” he added.

Andy Bhatia, Kenny Desai, Prabir Roy, Saurin Parikh, Dr. Pravin Pandhi, Haresh Shah, Anil Bansal and other members of the Federation of Indian Associations distributed the meals.

Many other individuals and governmental officials, volunteers the sponsors participated in the event in the different locations in both U.S. and India.

The participation from volunteers made the events larger, and FIA said it will amplify the initiative in coming years during Diwali festivities.

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