The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

मंसिर १९, २०७४ 0 By Ganesh Khaniya
शेयर गर्नुहोस्

Although it might appear that we live in wretched times, marked by corruption, malice, and violence—subjects which fill the pages of our dailies and paint an image of a society completely given over to selfish whims—there are a few folks who subvert these expectations, renewing our faith in humanity. In striving to channel help towards those who need it the most, these are the people who believe that life is only meaningful when you are able to lessen the miseries of your fellow men, in whatever capacity possible. And Krishna Datheputhe occupies a clear place amongst this breed of individuals.

Datheputhe, a resident of Byasi in Bhaktapur makes arrangements to provide free meals for the poor at the Mahakali temple premises, on the Bhaktapur-Kamal Binayak road. The chairperson of the temple conservation committee, he started the service more than a decade ago, with a combination of donations and his own investment, and has been feeding folks every morning—except on Fridays and Saturdays—since then. Inspired by his actions, two men by the names of Rajendra Pradhananga and Binod Ojha then offered to take up the two days Datheputhe couldn’t manage, and between the three of them, the kitchen has now been made operational throughout the week.

The food is simple, as can be expected, comprising of plain rice, Daal, pickles, and two types of curry, and is doled out to a group that consists largely of the elderly. Besides the seniors, there are also a few mentally challenged individuals, destitute single mothers, and many others who simply have nowhere else to turn.

Two ladies work in the kitchen to prepare the meals—sisters Laxmi and Chandreshwori—doing all of the cooking, and although they make a meagre salary off the job, only Rs 1,500, they aren’t ones to complain. The food used to be served in a makeshift dining hall in the public Sattal in the past, but of late, thanks to the financial support of the Bhaktapur Municipality and Pradhananga and Ojha, a separate building has been constructed expressly for that purpose, equipped with a hall and a small kitchen. This means that now, in one sitting, as many as 100 people can be fed in the same space. The new building boasts yet another hall downstairs which brings in income for the temple through picnickers who pay to reserve it for their use.

Datheputhe’s past and the struggles therein, he says, have a lot to do with what led him to start the meals. Born in the village of Dapcha in Kavre, he had never really known his father, who had passed away when Datheputhe was but a one-year-old. In order to help out the family, he’d started hawking various goods like Dokos, Nanglos and other bamboo products door-to-door at the age of 13. He’d then come to Banepa to work as an assistant in his uncle’s shop, eventually starting one of his own. After a great deal of hard work and saving up, he was able to settle in Bhaktapur. Now he has five sons, two daughters, and numerous grandchildren, and runs a small shop that he and his wife alternate tending to. Considering how hard it was, and how much luck it took for him to get to this point in life, Datheputhe says it’s made him empathize with those who haven’t been that lucky. Besides which, the shop and the temple duties keep him feeling young, he adds.

Initiatives such as Datheputhe’s are certainly inspiring, especially in an age where even philanthropy has acquired a suspiciously commercial sheen. Men like him, who are really invested in helping others, rarely appear in the headlines or onscreen, but they are the ones truly making a difference.

While his contemporaries while their days away sitting in tea shops and Paatis, chatting, the well-shaven Datheputhe, now in his mid-60s, will be welcoming visitors into the temple, dressed in his trademark white Daura Suruwal with a Bhadgaunle topi atop his head. Always with a smile on his face, he is a genial personality, and despite having little to no education, boasts impeccable account-keeping skills, maintaining proper registers of expenses and donations. For that is what the meal service relies on for the most part—contributions from the community. And Datheputhe is happy to report that these days, there are a lot of people who choose to fund a day’s meal at the temple to mark special occasions like birthdays and weddings.

A regular day for Datheputhe usually begins with early morning bhajans at several temples, following which he devotes himself to overseeing the feeding of his guests. “He knows all of the regulars by sight and if one of them fails to show up, he gets very anxious,” Chandreshwori says.

Initiatives such as Datheputhe’s are certainly inspiring, especially in an age where even philanthropy has acquired a suspiciously commercial sheen. Men like him, who are really invested in helping others, rarely appear in the headlines or onscreen, but they are the ones truly making a difference.

So what does Datheputhe dream of? “If I had the resources, I’d have liked to set up a whole shelter where people could come in and rest whenever they needed to,” he says. “Maybe someday it’ll happen.”


Source: Kathmandu Post, with the consent of the writer.