Indian spiritual centres in Europe are welcoming Ukrainian refugees

Helping hand.
Helping hand.
Image: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
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This post has been updated.

Russia-Ukraine war has displaced 100,000 Ukrainians already, and the number could go up to 5 million.

For many of those who find themselves marooned, help has come from humanitarian organisations, including those that trace their roots to India.

ISKCON in Ukraine

In Ukraine, the 57-year-old International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement,” has 54 centres. While it is not able to provide shelter or food distribution at this time, in east Ukraine, in Donetsk, the group is operating one prasadam (sanctified vegetarian food) distribution program.

“In the past also, during the Chechnya war, our devotees served those in distress, especially old people who are stranded in their flats and no one is there to take care of them,” said Radharaman Das, vice-president of ISKCON, Kolkata. “The same spirit is there during these difficult times and the devotees are working out how best they can serve people stranded in war zones in Ukraine.”

ISKCON Ukraine
ISKCON Ukraine’s locations.
Image: ISKCON Ukraine

Khalsa Aid

Sikh philanthropist organisation Khalsa Aid has been organising langars, free communal kitchens, in trains ferrying refugees. Khalsa Aid itself is based in the UK, although the Sikh religion traces its history to the Indian subcontinent.

Ravinder Singh, founder and CEO of Khalsa Aid, also tweeted about setting up relief teams on the ground in Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania. Volunteers have already helped 20 Indian students reach Warsaw, from where they can be evacuated. Tens of thousands of them are still stuck, since the Indian government was only able to remove a few hundred before the Ukranian air space shut.

Art of Living

In Poland, Art of Living, founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 1981, is also taking in those in need.