Food being distributed from Maa Annapurna Muft Bhojanalaya near Srilekha Cinema Hall in Dhanbad on Sunday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Call it being simply human.
The small, but honest, efforts of a 73-year-old man from Kendua, about 8km from Dhanbad district headquarters, are reaping big benefits for more than 50 destitutes for the last eight years.
Gopiram Satnalika provides lunch daily and helps fund weddings of poor girls. Besides, he also distributes saris and blankets among the needy during winter. A former rice mill owner in Assam, Satnalika at present owns a furniture shop in Kendua as well as works as a marriage broker.
On regular days, the menu consists of dal, bhaat and sabzi, while Sundays usually witness a surge in the number of beneficiaries because of a special menu. Around 120 people make a beeline for the Sunday special feast that includes dishes like puri-sabzi, idli or chola.
The feast, which is also known as Maa Annapurna Muft Bhojanalaya, is usually organised in front Srilekha Cinema where there is adequate space to accommodate so many people. Satnalika himself stands in the sun and serves food.
When asked what made him take up such a task, Satnalika narrated a story.
“Our family always offered alms to beggars while visiting temples. One such beggar once knocked on my door about eight years. However, before I could get something for him, the man fainted. The incident moved me so much that I decided to feed as many hungry mouths as possible,” said Satnalika, adding that a few local businessmen also helped him financially.
He took the names of people like Roop Kishor Agarwal, Mahendra Kumar Jhunjhunwala, Om Prakash Dokania and Vijay Mehta.
So, are all his beneficiaries paupers?
“No, some are daily wage earners and a few are hawkers who don’t earn enough to manage even one square meal a day. Then, there are of course elderly people and those who are physically challenged and thus cannot eke out a living,” said Satnalika.
The philanthropist stays with his son Anil Kumar Satnalika, daughter-in-law Puja Mittal and widow of his elder son Babita Mittal. A venture like this will obviously need the support of the family. “They are proud of my work,” Satnalika added.