All posts by mayapur

ISKCON Temple, Delhi Covid-19 Urgent Appeal

Patients are dying without oxygen amid Delhi surge with 1 death every 5 minutes… (Source Global News). Join us to help ISKCON Dwarka, Delhi during this crucial time of need and make a difference.

India has an unwelcomed record of Covid-19 cases with over 400,000 new cases in a 24-hour period being reported on 3rd May. Over 3,500 people lost their lives to the virus in 24 hours earlier this week. The situation in Delhi worsens as the oxygen crisis deepens and more patients die (Source BBC News).

ISKCON Dwarka in Delhi, the epicenter of the pandemic, needs urgent funds…

The Lotus Trust (the welfare arm of ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor) has partnered with ISKCON Dwarka in Delhi to expand our initial fund-raiser in 2 primary ways:

  1. Convert a university premise into a COVID nursing care center with an initial capacity of 250 beds (potential to increase to 1,000 beds) and provide the COVID care facilities free of cost to all comers (patients treated on first come first serve basis). We expect to care for roughly 2,500-5,000 patients over an initial 3-month period with a 250 bed set up.
  2. Distribute free meals to the individuals and families that are not able to cook or afford food due to the current circumstances. We target a distribution of roughly 2.7m meals over the 3 month period.

How you can help?

This much needed initiative requires investment in 3 key areas.

  1. Set of the of nursing care facilities including the beds, dedicated oxygen cylinders and other basic facilities
  2. Running of the nursing case facility including the costs of the medical staff, housekeep-ing, medications, and food
  3. Cooking, packaging, and distribution of 30k meals daily

To achieve the above and sustain the care for 3 months will cost £1.85m.

Please support us with providing this much needed care directly to those who need it the most. You can support 1 patient, for 1 day, for as little as £11 and 100 hot meals for £55. Let us all come together to do our part by giving what we can.


  • 1 patient for 1 day – £ 11.00
  • 1 patient for 3 days £ 31.00
  • 1 patient for 5 days – £ 51.00
  • patients for 5 days – £ 108.00
  • 1 oxygen concentrator – £ 501.00
  • 2 oxygen concentrators – £ 1,008.00
  • 1 Day Running Cost – £ 1,900.00
  • 1,000 meals – £550
  • Other Amount

Progress so far (Week 2)
We have made significant progress towards these objectives and have a plan in place to ensure that we continue to deliver and raise the funds in parallel.

By coming together and through your generous donations we have:

  • Secured the facilities and oxygen concentrators.
  • Started treating patient with 50 beds functional and expecting another 100 by 9th May and another 100 by 16th May.
  • Started the daily cooking and distribution of 30k meals as of 26th April.
  • Raised almost £100k of funding as of 5th May from a standing start on 26th April.

This is a great achievement but we are we just at the beginning and work still needs to be done!

We kindly request that you help support The Lotus Trust in this mission and help India pull through this heartbreaking pandemic. It is time for us to come together as a global community to respond to the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on people’s lives and help end this pandemic.

Your generous support will go a long way in providing life-saving treatment for the people of Delhi. Please do let me know if you can help support this urgent appeal.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Images of the tremendous effort and progress that has been made on the ground over the past week. As of 3rd May the clinic has started treating patients and has over 50 functional beds.

The team continues its endeavors to distribute hot meals to the vulnerable including those iso-lating at home and the critically vulnerable who are shielding.


The Team

Dedicated and qualified volunteers working tirelessly together to serve those most at need. Acknowledged for their valiant efforts and compassion to serve the country to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect the health of individuals by supplying them meals.

This capable team is now focusing their efforts on building this Covid-19 center in record time, lets do our bit to help them in the fight against Covid-19 in India.



New entrepreneur Mrs Aysylu Murtazina

Mrs Aysylu Murtazina was new entrepreneur on exchange at The Lotus Trust and has gained new competencies in the customer relationship, employee relationship and developed together new services. She implemented Henna, Mehdi workshops at The Lotus Trust events (weddings, birthday parties, Janmastami, Diwali,….) and is developing new services under the The Lotus Trust. She was in UK for 4 months at Host Entrepreneur Mr Sanjay Gadhvi. They developed several projects, including an improved range of workshops for children and a research on Henna designs in UK and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.


Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries.

The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The host benefits from fresh perspectives on his/her business and gets the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets.

Kerala Flood Appeal

Call For Support – Kerala Floods

Donate Here

The unprecedented rains since 8th August 2018 have brought Kerala to a standstill. Over 200 feared killed and thousands are still stranded. The situation seems to be grim with over 9 lakhs people now in shelter camps and several properties damaged. It is a herculean task to provide relief considering the magnitude of devastation.

Institute (A Project of Sri Chaitanya Seva Trust) has already initiated the relief activities in Pathanamthitta district with our base camp at Thiruvalla.

  • Food relief activities – 2000 plates per day for the last 4 days
  • Medical relief – A team of doctors, nurses and para-medical staff are working round the clock to provide medical help to appx. 800 patients per day for the past 3 days. We have a medical team going house to house to attend to the older and immobile patients.
  • Based on our past experience in Gujarat Earthquake, Tsunami, Uttarakhand, etc., we will be providing counseling – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Water has started receding and we propose to continue the relief work in phases based on the ground realities and past experience in disaster management.
  • We are in the process of identifying few villages where the community health centers/ schools are damaged and we propose to restore or rebuild the same.

Phase 1- Immediate (1-2 months)

  • Medical relief
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a major problem and if not addressed effectively, it will have grave repercussions. This includes Bereavement Care and Counseling.
  • Identify epidemics after the floods and plan control activities
  • Basic household & immediate requirements in terms of temporary shelters etc. will be provided

Donate Here

Current Estimates

Support for 10,000 Victims Amt. (Rs.)
Medical relief including medicines, counseling, etc. @ Rs.150 per person Rs.15 Lakhs
Other relief materials like food packets and blankets @ Rs.200 per person Rs.20 Lakhs
Essential items like torch, candles, Dettol, small utensils, water purifier, etc. @ Rs.150 per person Rs.15 Lakhs


Rs.50 Lakhs

Phase 2 (After 2 months)

  • We also propose to provide rehabilitation to the flood victims including building/ repairing community centers & schools.
  • We propose to provide school bus/ van/ mobile clinic
  • We propose to adopt 2 villages and provide medical services, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and ration items.
  • Education and future prevention initiatives

Donate Here

Recycle Yourself Project 2015

Project Summary

“Recycle yourself” is a project involving 25 youth workers from 5 partner organisations: Avadhuta (Croatia), The Lotus Trust (UK), Drustvo za duso (Slovenia), Nama Hatta Antwerpen (Belgium) and I.S.K.CON Firenze (Italy). All the organisations are active for many years in youth work, connected with areas of healthy lifestyles, education, ecology/self sustainability and social work. The partners expressed their mutual interest in creating a network based on strong partnerships aimed to connect more and exchange the good practices in relevant areas of their work.

Project Objectives

  1. Creating a platform for a European network of organisations active in the areas of youth work, healthy lifestyles and self-sustainability;
  2. Professionalisation and development of key competences and skills for youth workers (become more goal-oriented, get new experience at inter-cultural learning, develop practical ICT skills etc.);
  3. Improvement of managerial skills through exchange of good practices in their work, which will result in better quality and increased motivation of the staff for their activities in youth working area;
  4. Learning of innovative and improved ways of operating towards target groups, by providing more modern and attractive programs created at the meetings, for young people, volunteers and young NEET’s in line with their needs and expectations;
  5. Getting more experience and develop knowledge in area of EU/local project management and grant writing and in that way to find new financial resources for the projects (on local, regional and international level).

The project will last for 14 months, start on 1st of October 2014 and end on 1st of December 2015. It will involve 3 meetings/trainings of youth workers in Slovenia, Croatia and UK. The meetings will be based on different combinations of outdoor activities (organic gardening, field trips, cow milking, yoga), educational trainings (seminars, workshops on soft skills and innovative methods of youth work), learning opportunities of European instruments/certificates (Youthpass, Europass CV) and practical management education (fundraising for organisations on national and international level, grant writing, Erasmus+ opportunities presentations). During the partner meetings, photos and videos of activities will be taken and put into media forms which summarize the events and practical results attained. We will take photos and videos of educational activities, practical outdoor activities (ie planting the garden) and feedback from the youth from local communities who will attain the meetings. The conclusions of the meetings will be:

  • Slovenia, – preparatory event (soft skills development, outreach for youth),
  • Croatia, June 2015 – practical development event (European instruments, outdoor activities),
  • UK, September 2015 – summarization of the gained experience (fundraising, entrepreneurship ideas for youth).

Dissemination Event

This was public event held at the Bhaktivedanta Manor on November 30, 2015, to the Radlett community and larger congregation of the Bhaktivedanta Manor as well as internal departments of the organization. The goal of this event was to share the work this project has done, and inspire other organisations and individuals (specifically youth) to look at the Erasmus+ funding opportunities and see the project goals in a larger framework.

The long term effect of the project would be seen through the newly formed network of organisations where the youth workers will have more opportunities for professionalisation, skills and experience development and to improve the implementation of their learned experiences in local communities and outreach their target groups more effectively.

Throughout the public open day at our sister organisation the Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Lotus Trust invited interested persons to a 25 min presentation in our Cowshed offices (just above the cow stable) about the Recycle Yourself project and generally the Erasmus+ programme. We had a great turn out with over 50 people in attendance throughout the day. That along with the hands on elements such as oxen rides and other Recycle Yourself initiatives, the project dissemination was a great success!

Cuisine of Belgium

Throughout Europe bread is a staple food and Belgium is no different in this regard. Until recently most of the land to grow crops was being devoted to wheat, though today most of it is imported. Numerous bakeries sell many varieties of bread most common being plan de ménage a ¾ kg oval loaf. Nowadays hierarchy of bread types is reversed in comparison to the past: darker kinds of bread are much more popular and pricy than white wheat bread of the 1950s rich. Continue reading Cuisine of Belgium

Food and Culture

We people are essentially beings of culture, which is engrained in every little aspect of our lives. And when speaking of culture we should understand it in the broadest sense possible: as a totality of beliefs, values, attitudes and practices of a group of people. These are passed on from generation to generation through different phases of socialization, which are a part of process of enculturation. Through this process, one could say, we become humans as it is culture which distinguishes us from other animals. Culture is a binding factor which links together individuals into a community and ascribes purpose to their lives.

Food on the other hand is more often than not considered a product of nature and although this may be true for the foodstuffs themselves as they occur in nature, it is a flawed assumption when we look at what humans actually eat. “A thing not of nature” is how Hippocrates viewed food and he was far from being a lone sheep in the flock of the thinkers of the past. As Montanari puts it: “The dominant values of food system in human experience are, to be precise, not defined in terms of ‘naturalness, but result from and represent cultural processes dependent upon the taming, transformation, and reinterpretation of Nature.” It is man who culturally chooses his food from a vast array of things suitable for consumption, and not only that, but he produces, transforms, creates and ‘performs it in a way known only to him, something other animals do not do. In this sense food is culture and it is culture when is prepared, cooked by means of fire and modified by other culinary practices . “Through such pathways food takes shape as a decisive element of human identity and as one of the most effective means of expressing and communicating that identity. ”

A well-known Ancient Greek aphorism ‘Know thyself! comes to mind when trying to understand food in the context of culture or as in the words of Massimo Montanari food as culture. If we truly are what we eat then food as a cultural element can be seen as an entrance into cultural learning and a stepping stone to a greater understanding of human nature. Or as Ken Albala writes in his history and recipe book on Cooking in Europe:

Growing and preparing food has also been the occupation of the vast majority of men and women who ever lived. To understand ourselves, we should naturally begin with the food that constitutes the fabric of our existence. Yet every culture arrives at different solutions, uses different crops and cooking methods, and invents what amount to unique cuisines. These are to some extent predetermined by geography, technology, and a certain amount of luck. Nonetheless every cuisine is a practical and artistic expression of the culture that created it. It embodies the values and aspirations of each society, its world outlook as well as its history. Fluidity is an essential cultural trait and therefore it is impossible to talk about cultures being set in stone: they are ever evolving. Food and cuisine being cultural elements evolve likewise through time. What today seems to be national cuisines or European cuisine is a result of many years of consequent change and improvements. In order to understand why we eat what we eat today is important to at least briefly look at historical background that has shaped the dishes consumed by nobles as well as commoners.

History of European Cuisine

European cuisine of today is in many ways different from what was eaten in ancient times and through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The techniques and flavourings in ancient Rome for example pose a stark difference to what is considered palatable today by a common European let alone mentioning the absence of the foodstuffs of the New World. Highly seasoned sauces and heavily spiced dishes were a common occurrence in those days:

The Roman comedy writer Plautus decried the habit of some cooks of overflavoring their dishes with sharp herbs and heavy spices, describing their seasonings as like “screech owls eating the entrails out of living guests.” The Romans certainly liked strong flavors, as attested by their love of garum, the ubiquitous salty sauce made from fermented fish, which they ate with virtually everything. The recipes of Apicius, probably dating from the first century AD, show how pervasive the Roman love of strong flavors was—for example, his recipe for flamingo includes vinegar, dill, coriander, pepper, caraway, asafoetida root, mint, rue, and dates. Romans used spices which have been completely forgotten in time such as grains of paradise – pungent peppery seeds with a hint of citrus or asafoetida – a widely used spice with a flavour and smell reminiscent of onions and garlic now still used in Indian cuisine.

Cookery of Middle Ages, Renaissance and Elizabethan Cuisine were still heavily influenced by an extensive use of spices and sugar even in savoury dishes. Many dishes were made sweet and sour with dried fruits and vinegar.

There is a noticeable heritage from Roman style of cookery which continued through Early Middle Ages onwards. “There were of course changes, shifts in taste preference and techniques and many geographical variations. Some ingredients came into fashion or slowly lost favour through this period. But it is nonetheless safe to say that someone eating in the fourteenth century would enjoy much the same basic repertoire of dishes as someone 300 years later. ” A major factor influencing the development of cuisine of the time was global travel and trade, which introduced a wide variety of new foodstuffs, however, not many (for example nowadays much adored potatoes) except the spices were welcomed at first. One of the more significant breaks in culinary history was a purely consequential one: due to higher literacy rate people demanded different kinds of recipes: “They could not afford whole porpoises or venison and they wanted recipes for fewer guests and less expensive ingredients. This accounts for many of the changes in European cookery. So too do purely economic factors such as the profitability of dairy cattle and the increasing prevalence of milk products in cuisine after 1500. ”

To a great extent this cuisine was inherited from or was an adaptation of Middle Eastern and Persian cuisine. Just as spices, sugar, and dried fruits were bought from Muslim merchants in the eastern Mediterranean, so too were cooking techniques and flavour preferences. This was a cuisine that used many spices together in dense clusters of flavour. Sugar and sour ingredients were often used in combination, along with nuts. Food was often pounded into fine smooth textures. Interestingly, it was this cuisine that was carried with Muslim expansion into India with the Moghuls where it remains today. It was also carried into Spain and flourished under the Abbasid Caliphate of Cordoba after the eighth century. The Muslim settlers brought with them many new ingredients, too; for example, eggplants, spinach, artichokes, rice, lemons, and sugar… The spice repertoire of the average medieval cook was far more extensive than any used today in the West. Along with those mentioned were cassia, which is a relative of cinnamon and is actually what is sold today in the United States [and Europe] labelled cinnamon, cassia buds, as well as grains of paradise or meleguetta pepper from the West Coast of Africa, long pepper and what was called tailed pepper or cubebs. Cubebs have a tiny pointy spike, but otherwise look like black pepper. All these have very subtly distinctive flavours and aromas. Ginger, always in dried form and ground, was also a major spice as well as its cousin galangal, which is spicier; some modern cookbook authors describe it as mustard-like and pungent.

What one can easily notice examining the cookbooks of the European past is that the elites feasted on a wide variety of foods, of plant and animal origin alike. Cookbooks tend to focus on meat because it was the most expensive and prestigious of foods, and the most complicated to cook, but there are many recipes for vegetables and lowly starches as well. These, of course, made up the bulk of ordinary peoples diet, but aristocrats and wealthy townspeople, the readers of cookbooks, were not above eating them. Every meal at every level of society included bread and wine, or beer in the north—even in the morning.

The mentioned new foods of the New World appear seldom in the cookbooks until the end of 17th century and we can only guess how they were cooked if they were at all. As noted the rich enjoyed an ample variety of expensive and complicated dishes, however the majority of the population in the Middle Ages and long after as well depended mostly on simple soups – the most popular mainstays of the European diet.

The poorer the family, the greater their dependence on soup—in which could be put any type of vegetable, grain, or meat. In fact, it was often customary to just keep a soup pot over the hearth, continually adding ingredients at hand, indefinitely. Beans could be added, cabbage and leafy greens, practically anything. Soups were also eaten any time of day, in the morning in the rustic farmhouse, or as an evenings supper, made of left over ingredients. Soups also varied according to thickness, and recipes usually distinguish between thin bouillons and broths and thicker pottages—or what in Italian were called minestre, as in the modern word minestrone.

As the years progressed the dishes became less complex in flavour profiles and more clean tastes were preferred more and more. Instead of using up to a dozen spices to flavour a dish cuisine of later 17th century onwards centred more on a single herb or spice or a combination of a few. But it was up until 19th century and in some countries even late 20th century when industrialization of agriculture and mass production of food significantly changed food habits and through cookbooks somewhat standardized the Western cuisine. Most of the once much loved dishes and widely used ingredients were forgotten or replaced by those which in the past only the wealthiest could afford. These recent changes are presented country-by-country in detail in the European Cuisine section.

About Pizza Effect Learning Partnership

Pizza Effect Learning Partnership is coordinated by The Lotus Trust, an educational, relief and development organization in the UK. The Lotus Trust and six partner organisations from Hungary, Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Netherlands and Belgium implemented this project that connected and united persons through non formal adult education around a common idea of healthy simple food, appreciation of ones own and others culture, and active social integration into the European community.

Through several cooking workshops we established communication, encouraged peer learning within target groups of adults, as well as intergenerational interaction. Using food as an integrating topic, the project updated the knowledge and skills of participating staff by improving their competencies necessary for managing organizations. Through many international mobilities at six meetings, each partner organisation became familiar with large scale of practical adult training methods; improved their communication, fundraising and team-working skills.

By means of informal learning and self-expressive activities based on relevant topics, the barriers limiting the adults social integration were reduced, we become friends, expanded knowledge base and adopted to modern circumstances. We promoted healthy lifestyles and cultural diversity. We cooperated with Wave Network and had local workshops and presentations for persons most at risk of social exclusion (women, children, migrants, refugees, elderly, disabled people and those living in rural areas).

As a result of the project this “Receipe Booklet – Pizza Effect Food Fusion” with the descriptions of food culture, history and way of life of participating countries has been prepared.

PDF download here or view online in the European Cuisine section of this website.

Cuisine of Germany

One could say that the most significant of all German foodstuffs is bread, which traditionally comes in all shapes and sizes: based on different grains (wheat or rye, mixed with oats, spelt, buckwheat, different seeds, etc.), strong or finely ground flours, ways of fermentation (whether using yeast or sourdough), seasoned with nuts, spices and fruits and so on and so forth. For many breakfast without fresh rolls isn’t a proper breakfast . Continue reading Cuisine of Germany

Cuisine of Great Britain

“British food culture has changed markedly since the 1960s, as interest in dishes and ingredients from all over the world and a vibrant restaurant scene displaced an earlier reputation for plain, bland, poor-quality food. The traditional diet is based on bread, potatoes, dairy produce, and meat. Regional ideas related to food survive but are nuanced and sometimes difficult to detect. ” Diverse variety is a stamp that encompasses what is contemporary British food. Multiculturalism and influence from all over the wold largely shape selection of produce and cooking techniques. “The growth of vegetarianism, foreign travel, and the work of chefs and writers inspired by other cultures have influenced choices, as have changes in retailing and an intense media interest in food. ” Continue reading Cuisine of Great Britain

Cuisine of Hungary

Hungary holds a reputation of its people being avid meat eaters and is due to traditional diet high in animal fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and generally low in fibre, vegetables and fruits one of Europe’s unhealthiest countries. There is, however, a turning point in progress because lifestyles and eating habits of younger generation largely differ from older who came of age during Communism. A stark difference is visible also in diets of those living in big cities, especially Budapest, and those in the countryside . Continue reading Cuisine of Hungary