A former Chatham House student who became a Hare Krishna monk after meeting devotees of the religion will be open a free Sunday vegetarian meal scheme in Cliftonville.
Mantra Chaitanya das, 35, wife Hema Mukhi and some volunteers from his yoga and meditation group at Margate’s Beet Bar, will launch the project this Sunday (September 1).
Former musician Mantra began the Margate Mantra Lounge free yoga and meditation sessions almost a year ago and says the popularity of the sessions has spurred him on to offer even more to the community.
He said: “For around one year now a small group of us have been running the “Margate Mantra Lounge”, a free weekly meditation workshop at the Beet Bar cafe, aimed at helping local people find health and happiness through free yoga and meditation events.
“The idea was that, as a former Chatham House student who spent most of his youth in Thanet, I was keen to give something back to the community which I came from.
“Since we started in September 2018 the group has grown into a close family of like-minded people who are benefiting from the workshops we do, and always looking to reach out to others to benefit too. We regularly see up to 30 people coming to take advantage of what we have to offer.
“Due to our popularity, we are now starting another community project in Margate serving free lunches at the 101 Social Club on Northdown Road every Sunday. We have been working with Food For All UK, which has been distributing hot meals around the UK, and mainly in the south east, for about 30 years.”
The programme had a successful trial run in April and is being supported by 101 club owners, couple Franca Pip Pauli and Dario Colombo.
Mantra said: “We met them and hit it off. They came to our programme in Canterbury and said we should get together. I contacted them with this idea and they agreed.
“R=At the trial run there was around 50 people with a good mix, some people were homeless but there were also families and artists and everyone was under one roof, eating together, It was a great experience.”
Mantra says the decision to come to Margate was because he and Hema wanted to share what they had learnt in an area where there was not a Hare Krishna presence.
He added: “I was showing my wife around Margate and just thought it could be such a good place to do something and share what we know.
“Margate is a really exciting place to be, there is so much scope and people make ou so welcome. There are so many people in need we thought why not do this, it is what Hare Krishna is- to open our arms and say ‘come in.’”
Mantra is also involved in the week-long, walking ‘Padayatra’ festival which made its way with Hare Krishna monks and a temple on wheels pulled by two bullocks through Canterbury and Thanet last week.
The Sunday lunch project opens this Sunday (September 1) from noon until 2pm at the 101 Social Club, 101 Northdown Road.