Life and thoughts under the Pandemic

We grapple on, from our homes and the frontlines with this invisible (more on this later) yet deadly threat amidst us. In this scenario, I was asked to put pen on paper and write the next newsletter to the members, friends and well-wishers of our South Asian Community– to capture some of the emotions and feelings that we are going through. And, to solicit support for our charitable endeavour for the Food Bank by letting your latent talents and artistic gems rise to the fore by participating in our interesting Art and Talent Contest.

The words that we use to describe this current global challenge are woefully inadequate: invisible – hardly so, it has left in its wake crying and suffering people; unprecedented – how can we have forgotten the Spanish flu of the last century; bizarre,  disturbing, shocking, terrifying are similarly insufficient to capture the blow it has dealt to different levels of society. I just have to think about my graduating students who face an uncertain employment market and the South West that we live in, so reliant on tourism and hospitality, facing a sunny summer with lock-down and social distancing.

Now more than ever before, we need to stand and support one another and be pro-active in our own ways in lending that helping hand. Find details of the Food Bank and how your generous donation will help people across the city.

The Thursday clapping has turned our thoughts collectively to those who are on the frontlines of this battle. We acknowledge and applaud the appreciable work the doctors/nurses/health care professionals wage on the frontlines. Our thoughts turn as one to the hospitals pushed to their limits, the toiling supermarket employees working to keep the essentials flowing, country after country on its knees fighting this silent lurking virus on a warpath.

You don’t need to open the television or hear the news to realise how people are suffering. The people who have run out of money or business, who are relying on food banks more than ever. Then there are those too tired to do their shopping after a long day at work or even too tired to eat – working long shifts at the hospital, care home or ensuring other essential services go on uninterrupted. It is painfully sad to hear of the death of health care workers – so many from our communities are on the frontline. Thursdays evenings are a day to look forward to – a small but mighty expression of solidarity and appreciation for those on the frontlines of this war. I have seen people come out with cymbals and bells and the good ole pot and spoon!

Last night we opened our front door and stood on the doorstep and clapped. Our claps resounded up and down the street and I could hear horns blaring and a few crackers blasting off around the city. The neighbours were out in full force – we were acknowledging and applauding everyone who works in the NHS, the carers whom we rely on when we are sick, those on whom we turn to in our illness and for our essential services. Who is looking after them, I wonder?? Who is making sure that their needs and their safety is a priority?    

When will we appreciate the fundamental interdependence of our existence in this world? We are so reliant on the health system and on the retail and care sectors, the refuse and bin collectors, and others like them. Most often we take them for granted. At least by opening our doors and coming out we recognise the intrinsic connections between ourselves and those you look after us when we are vulnerable.

I hope and pray that this enemy does not come knocking on my door and, if it does rear its head, we shall be ready to fight it tooth and nail like so many before us have and after us will. The things that distinguished our days—commuting to work, dropping our kids to school, discussing work issues over coffee with colleagues, bumping into people in the printer room—has been put on hold, time tends to take on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structures, our days can feel a little untethered, our lives a little hinged. But the human spirit in each of us is there, creative, enterprising, full of resources and ideas; the sun is shining, and the birds are singing, and we shall together prevail.

Or, as Rumi has expressed so eloquently:

“Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.”

More from me next time.

Stay safe, stay home, stay curious and stay well! 

Smita Tripathi

Editor, SAaS Newsletter and Trustee

SAaS fundraising event through Art and Talent Contest for ‘Food Banks’

Dear members and well-wishers

The Covid-19 is affecting our communities at their core. This crisis has also given us the opportunity to come closer, share our values and help each-other during this unprecedented global predicament.

In line with previous charitable events, South Asian Society (SAaS) of Devon and Cornwall has aimed to raise funds for ‘FOOD BANKS’ through an exciting contest involving younger members of our communities to showcase the talents, reflect their perspectives and feelings into fun and art.

Those members and well-wishers of the SAaS, who are not able to participate in this contest are requested to donate generously to support this noble charitable cause (bank details given in the attached flyer). The collection of donation without participation in the contest will continue until 30th of June 2020. Communities need to support one another at this time and think about those most vulnerable and affected by the pandemic.

The deadline to participate in the contest is 11pm, 20th of June 2020. Please find details about the event in the attached flyer. By entering in the contest, it is implied that you agree with the ‘Terms and Conditions to Participate in SAaS Event’ downloadable from the link below.

Contest theme: Life in times of the Corona

We will most gratefully welcome your co-operation and efforts in support of the wider community, including wider dissemination of this Art and Talent Competition.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries regarding the contest or the charity event.  

Looking forward to your generous support to these activities.

Yours truly,

Professor Awadhesh Jha

(Chairperson, SAaS) on behalf of the trustees

Eid Mubarak and Buddha Purnima

‘Eid Mubarak’ to all our friends celebrating ‘Eid ul-Fitr’. As we know, the festival marks the end of a month of fasting from dawn to dusk during the Holy month of Ramadan. ‘Eid ul-Fitr’ is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar and was started by the Prophet Muhammad himself. It is also known as ‘The Feast of Breaking the Fast’. Eid is celebrated with a lot of fervour and joy as people greet each other, pray and celebrate with family and friends. ‘Zakat’ or charitable giving is an important aspect of the festival. I remember sharing food at ‘Iftaar’ (Break of a fast)  with friends and partaking delicious food.

Like any other festival, Eid is a time for celebrating religious teachings, history, and community spirit. We wish our friends celebrating Eid ul-Fitr a blessed time during this Eid. Unlike previous years the festival celebrations have taken a very different turn under ‘lock-down’ and with social distancing in place.   

Vesak (Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti) is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It falls on the day of the Full Moon in April or May and is celebrated worldwide by remembering the teachings of Buddha and offering prayers. This year it was observed on 6th and 7th  May, 2020. The dharmacakra or dharma wheel is a symbol often seen during Vesak – it represents Buddha’s teaching on the path to enlightenment. The eight spokes symbolize the noble eightfold path of Buddhism. Buddha’s teachings are truly relevant today as Buddhism in my mind is closely linked with meditation practices and with deep introspection which enables us to be mindful of nature, and to live each moment to its fullest.

COVID – Community fundraising initiatives

We are pleased to announce that we are working on couple of fundraising initiatives supporting the local community to combat both short and medium-term challenges.

Art and Talent Contest supporting Food banks 

The contest could be a great way to channel children’s and wider community perspectives and feelings into fun and art and to have a place where audiences could see it. The contest details will be shared separately later this week. This is our medium-term effort to help and contribute culturally within the local community but also raise funds for charities in Devon and Cornwall who are and will have an instrumental role to play in the recovery ahead. 
Watch out for our next newsletter for further details. 

AGM & Annual Event 2020

Annually, the society organises its AGM in the month of June. The AGM is a valuable opportunity for its members to meet socially and discuss the progress made and how to move society forward. It also gives us the opportunity to start planning for the annual event, normally organised in the month of November. Due to the prevailing situation, the trustees have agreed to postpone the AGM until the situation improves. We will be reviewing the Government relaxation rules for social distancing and announce the date of AGM and the Annual Event at the earliest opportunity. It will be a great occasion to meet in person. We all should be looking forward to it.  

The tenure of current office bearers will expire following the AGM. The trustees will, therefore, be electing new office bearers after the AGM. We will be giving advance notice for the AGM and will also encourage members to volunteer themselves to become trustees to serve the society.

Devon and Cornwall Police Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime Pledge

Devon and Cornwall Police have a Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime. With that in mind I would like to make those of you who don’t already know, that you too can support this pledge, helping to empower your communities that Hate Crime will not be tolerated. 

The pledge aims to:

  • Increase knowledge and understanding of Hate Crime among our communities
  • Promote reporting methods, including third party reporting
  • Explain how the police respond to a victim of Hate Crime
  • Help individuals understand how we can deal with those individuals who commit hate crime

You can sign the pledge by visiting our site:

Please show your support as an organisation and spread the message amongst the communities that Hate Crime is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.