Going round Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch in Gujarat one comes across Navneet Bhojanalaya.
Though it is run by a Jain organization Kutchi Veesha Oshwal Trust it is open for all. This is what has made it a popular eating house in this town of Kutch.
The Bhojanalaya is like any other Bhojanshala run by a Jain trust. It has Jain food but what makes it different is the fact that here anyone can eat food irrespective of caste and creed. Like any other Bhojanalaya one is charged for food but the quality and quantity of food makes it quite popular among people.
One can see even Muslims enjoying food here. Initially this had raised quite a opposition from among the members of the trust but president of trust Tarachand Chheda won over all critics through his disarming logic. He said that this was to serve the basic principle of Jain religion of non violence.
The day non vegetarian ear in this Bhojanalaya the cause of non violence is served. Live and let live. Talking about this approach Tarachand said that Jains are mahajans which literally means peole are above average and naturally mahajan has to think about all. He himself is Jain and is associated with this organization for last 13 years.
Navneet Bhojanalaya offers Jain food which does not have onion and garlic. Tarachand claims that the quality of food is best. The organization buys food grains and oil of best quality. It charges Rs.35 for food for one person but it has everything from salad to a glass of buttermilk which is must for food of any Kutchi. It has a staff of 50 people.
The popularity of Navneet Bhojanalaya can be realized from fact that daily over 1,000 people come for lunch and dinner. Except Sunday evening it is always open. Recently the building of this Bhojanalaya was renovated and it started today.
But during this renovation period there was makeshift arrangement in tents in the compound of organization. Tarachand who has been member of Legislative Assembly from Bhuj saud on the day of earthquake on Jan.26, 2001 the Bhojanalaya was turned into a relief camp within one hour and for full four months people were offered free food.
Over 5 lakh people were provided food at a time when Bhuj was in ruins by the devastating earthquake.