**Puri**: The annual Rath Yatra festival attracts lakhs of devotees to the pilgrim town of Puri. In a stretch of roughly three kilometers, a milling crowd of swarming pilgrims gather to pull the magnificent chariots from Srimandir to Mausi Maa temple.
This is when the Good Samaritans, who understand the virtue of ‘Service to Mankind Is Service To God’, emerge as the real heroes.
As the festival starts early in the morning and concludes in the evening, exhausted devotees occasionally desire to rev up and recharge themselves with food and water. And thus, the Good Samaritans feeling the pulse of the devotees swing into action in a bid to pump in a fresh lease of life.
These selfless, humane and service groups provide packets of food and water, and also chairs for the devotees to sit and relax amidst the commotion. These volunteers often have glucose, biscuits and rejuvenating drinks to revive the unconscious devotees. They also spend a lot of their time fanning the pilgrims to provide them respite from the heat.
This year at least 150 volunteers each from Bharat Sevashram Sangh, Ishwar Sevashram, and Kishwar Sevashram are present on the scene. They will be staying in Puri for the service of devotees till ‘Bahuda’ (the return journey of the deities).
In addition that, at least 2000 members of the Biju Yuva Vahini are also present in Puri for ten days to help the devotees. With this, Yuva Vahini aims at instilling social values and responsibility among the youths to take up community service, volunteerism and leadership.
Speaking to OMMCOM NEWS about the motive behind such a noble service, a member from the Bharat Sevashram Sangh said that they lend a helping hand to the people out of absolute devotion and complete selflessness.
Crowded festivals like Rath Yatra always have the danger of stampedes, physical violence and congestion looming large. To provide help during exigencies like these, the service groups are prepared with stretchers to carry people to the nearest hospital in case they get grievously wounded in the crowd. First-aid kits and medicines are always handy to avert serious injuries and health problems.
Groups and volunteers like these restore people’s faith in immortal humanity. They well understand that ever Benevolent God never wants devotees to suffer.
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