VIJAYAWADA, INDIA, October 4, 2019 (The Hindu): Even before the Kanaka Durga temple is thrown open to devotees for darshan at 3 a.m. during the Dasara festival, activity at the temple kitchen begins. Volunteers, cooks and their helpers get down to work at 2 a.m. as the food has to be ready by 8.30 a.m. The task is enormous: about 3,500 - 3,750 lbs kg of vegetables are cut for curries, chutney and sambar and about 8,800 lbs of rice is cooked to meet the demand for anna prasadam. Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam provided free meal to 239,000 devotees during the festival last year. This year, it is expected that 350,000 pilgrims will avail the facility. More than 67,000 people have visited the annadanam satram located downhill of Indrakeeladri in the last four days.
The devasthanam used to serve free meals to just 60 devotees a day in the beginning and now the number has gone up to 3,000-4,000 during normal days. The rush surges to 5,000 on Sundays and Fridays. And, during festivities, it peaks to about 25,000 per day. Many devotees believe they should have anna prasadam at the temple after darshan. The devasthanam is following the dictum that offering food without expecting anything in return in letter and spirit, says AEO B. Venkat Reddy, who is in-charge of the annadanam.