I have been utterly blown away by the generosity of our customers! As of 8 am on Friday morning, May 28th, we have raised $28,327!
On top of the $2,000 initial donation, Lotus Sculpture is matching the $8,338 donated in the first 24 hours. That brings the total to $36,665!
From the $2,000 wire payment made to Balan on 5/19, we were able to donate 175 bags of rice to needy villagers in India. An additional $19,097 was wired to Balan on 5/24 to purchase rice for another round of distributions.
Balan has focused on the villages around where he lives in Mamallapuram by contacting village leaders and asking them to give names of families who have the most need. These are mostly agrarian families who live day to day earning their living by working in the fields for their daily needs. With a full lockdown in place, they are unable to work and are going hungry.
We made the decision to donate 25kg rice bags because rice is the central staple of the Indian diet and can easily feed a family for up to 3 weeks.
“It is difficult to explain the feeling I got when I saw their eyes fill with relief.” ~Balan
Balan has already purchased 1800 bags of rice (25kgs) with the 2nd wire sent of $19,097 on 5/24.He has been in contact with village leaders around Mamallapuram compiling lists of families with the most need.
Currently, no one is allowed to leave their homes with police enforcing people staying in their homes. On Monday, May 31st, when the harsh lockdown lifts there will be 8 local points where the bags of rice will be distributed.
These points will be at Balan’s home as well as the homes of his friends and local leaders. (We will send a newsletter with pictures of the 2nd round of donations next week.)
What Is Still Needed:
We will continue to give as long as there is a need. With the lockdown measures in place indefinitely there is still a need for aid.
In the first week of June, we will send another wire for rice distribution around our bronze artists in Kumbakonam and Swamimalai. We have already contacted our artisans and have started compiling lists of families in these areas.
Give knowing that 100% of every dollar you give goes to buying rice in South India.
As many of you have already seen on the news, the situation in India is very dire. With over 26 million cases of COVID and close to 300 thousand deaths and counting, India’s daily death toll has hit the world’s highest and unfortunately is not showing signs of slowing any time soon. Spreading to India’s rural communities which lack adequate medical facilities, people are desperate for any help they can receive.
I have been brainstorming with my good friend and Lotus Sculpture artist, Balan, on what we can do to help. Balan, who lives in Mahaballipuram in Tamil Nadu, India, toured local villages to speak with the people and see what families need. Two of those stories are below and I encourage you to read them and hear firsthand what daily life is like in India.
“I had visited more than 20 villages nearby Mamallapuram. I just understand… we must help them with 25-kilo rice bags to every poor family… the basic food is rice. 25 kilos rice bags cost 1000 Rupees ($13.75) depending on the quantity we buy.”
Together we came up with a plan to distribute an everyday staple that families need; 25-kilogram bags of rice. Earlier this week Lotus Sculpture donated $2,000 for Balan to purchase rice for local families. He will be distributing the rice on Monday, May 24th.
I am personally asking you to help us with donations for the 2nd round of aid scheduled for later this coming week.
Lotus Sculpture will match every dollar donated.
100% of the money donated will go to direct aid to the people struggling to make ends meet in this terrible time.
One 25kg bag of rice costs $13 and can save a family in need. Please click on the link above to make a donation or contact me directly if you would like to donate more; [email protected]
This is one of those times that you have the ability to change the lives of families who need help.
– Kyle, founder of Lotus Sculpture
Below are two of the most extreme stories we have heard but these are the people who will benefit from your donations…
Kumar and Chathanthi are a couple also from Karumarapakkam village. They have two sons, Johnson and Ruben. Both of their sons have down syndrome. Kumar and Chathanthi work in the fields and earn 100 to 200 Rupees daily ($1.40 – $2.80). They use this income to feed their sons, for medical expenses, and for essential items including rice, sugar, cooking oil, and kerosene at the ration shop in the village. In the current situation they are unable to feed their children and take them to the hospital without any money coming in. They too are relying on charity and desperately waiting for the curfew to be lifted.
Ansari and Gunsar are a Muslim couple from the village of Karumarappakkam. They have two sons, Kalisa and John Pasha. Ansari buys and sells scrap metal. He earns between 400 and 500 rupees a day ($5.50 – $6.50). Similarly, their eldest son, Kalisa, walks to the villages around his home every day selling samosas. He makes 50 to 100 Rupees ($.70 – $1.40) a day. The second son, John Pasha, was born with cerebral palsy and hand and foot deformities at birth. He is 14 years old. With the coronavirus curfew, the father and brother are unable to move around and thus cannot earn an income even to feed themselves. They have been living off of charity alone and will continue to do so until the curfew is lifted.
Over the past year, I have been getting pleas from our artisans over their situation due to Covid. With no domestic customers buying statues in each country and no tourists creating any other domestic demand, their only source of revenue has been Lotus Sculpture.
We have tried our hardest to support our artists during this time by ordering more statues to help make up for their overall loss of orders. A full four months into this year we have already ordered as many statues from our artists as we did all of 2020.
I have asked a couple of our artisans to say how covid has affected them. Here is a collection of their responses.
~Kyle, founder of Lotus Sculpture
It took me 5 years of searching to find the small village where the majority of wood statues in India are produced. There, in Tamil Nadu, I met my wood artisan Natarajan (the man to my right pictured below). It has been over 13 years, and I have been working with him ever since.
Here is what Natarajan has to say about COVID and the relentless effect it has had on his business, his family, and his artists:
Balan is my dearest friend in India. He is like a brother to me. I contact him every night and it makes me so sad to hear news about the current situation
Piyush is my brass artist in New Delhi which is at the epicenter of where the virus is exacting the harshest toll at the moment.
He has had three people in his immediate family pass away from the virus in the past month. I often say that the media overinflates the bad news, but in this case, I do not think they are doing the current situation in India justice. It is very bad there!
Over the years of researching Buddhism and reading many blogs on the subject, we have developed a fondness for many Buddhist blogs. Here is our list of the top 40 Buddhist blogs we read. Please take a look at them!
1. Tiny Buddha – Founded in 2009, Tiny Buddha has emerged as a leading resource for peace and happiness, with more than six million readers and followers and a vibrant community forum.
2. Tricycle – The Buddhist Review is a print and digital magazine dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available.
3. Mindful – Mindful Communications is a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to sharing the gifts of mindfulness through content, training, courses, and directories
4. Lions Roar – Lion’s Roar is an independent non-profit foundation whose mission is to communicate Buddhist wisdom and practices in order to benefit people’s lives and our society, and to support the development of Buddhism in the modern world.
5. The Karmapa – Latest news, teaching transcripts, and announcements from the Karmapa
6. Jack Kornfield – Author, Buddhist practitioner, Spirit Rock Meditation Center founding teacher, and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West.
7. Wild Mind – Wildmind’s mission is to benefit the world by promoting mindfulness and compassion through the practice of Buddhist meditation.
17. The Kwan Um School of Zen – The Zen centers of the Kwan Um School of Zen around the world offer training in Zen meditation through meditation instruction, daily morning and evening meditation practice, public talks, teaching interviews, retreats, workshops, and community living.
18. Global Buddhism – The Global Buddhism blog is dedicated to discussing the global character of Buddhism both historically and in the contemporary world.
20. Europe Center – As an international meeting place, the Europe Center maintains the living transmission of the Diamond Way in the Karma Kagyü Lineage
21. Tibetan Buddhism – Dedicated to highlighting difficult issues around Tibetan Buddhism
23. The Practical Buddhist – Teachings on Practical Buddhism – Helping the Lay Buddhist Follow the Path and Incorporate Buddhist Practice into Contemporary Daily Life
24. Heart Sutra and Buddhism – The Heart sutra also known as The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom is the core of The Mahaprajna Paramita sutra in six hundred scrolls. The Heart Sutra is one of the best-known and most popular Buddhist scriptures.
25. Bright Earth – Bright Earth Temple offers a simple practice that connects us to the unconditional love of the Buddha. We also have a strong emphasis on care for the Earth.
26. The Burma Dhamma Blog – Featuring longform interviews getting at the heart of Dhamma practice in Myanmar (Burma). We talk with monks, nuns, meditation teachers, yogis, meditators, pilgrims, authors, scholars, and more to learn about the range of Buddhist practice and life in the Golden Land.
27. Buddhism Guide – This podcast is about Buddhism as a way of life, which means there is no Buddhist jargon or dogma.
28. Christopher Titmuss Blog -Christopher Titmuss, a former Buddhist monk in Thailand and India, teaches Awakening and Insight Meditation around the world.
29. Dhamma Musings – Shravasti Dhammika has been a Buddhist monk for 32 years and is the spiritual advisor to the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore.
30. Wisdom Quarterly – The Dharma, Sutras, and commentarial interpretations of interest to American Buddhists of all traditions with news that not only informs, but transforms.
33. San Franscisco Zen Center – San Francisco Zen Center was established in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1904-1971) and his American students. Suzuki Roshi is known to countless readers as the author of the modern spiritual classic, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
34. Lotus Happiness – Lotus Happiness is an independent and non-sectarian humanistic Buddhist community that anchors upon the Buddha’s teachings of the Lotus Sutra as its core practice.
35 Soka Gakkai International – Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA) is the most diverse Buddhist community in the United States with more than 500 chapters and some 100 centers throughout the country.
36. Jade Mountains – Jade Mountains contains, and points to, various sources of Buddhist teachings. Some blog posts may be labeled as Teachings to make locating them easier.
37. The Same Old Zen – Sensei Alex Kakuyo is a lay Buddhist minister and former Marine. His approach to Buddhism focuses on the connection between spirituality and daily life.
38. Buddha Net – A Buddhist blog that is not based in the metaphysical world, but has its feet planted firmly on this planet. It is easy to follow and practical.
39. Buddhaimonia Buddhaimonia is a resource for those looking to live with greater peace and balance through the practices of mindfulness, related meditations, and Buddhist wisdom.
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Is your Buddhist blog missing from this site? Please let us know if you think your blog should be listed. Email me at [email protected]
I recently heard the sad news that one of the artisans, with whom I have been working with for over 20 years, had passed away. Elumalai was a master of his craft. He specialized in carving with a grey marble stone that was softer than typical colored marbles. This allowed him to give all his statues intricate details that are often missing from marble statues.
“Looking into the eyes of one of his Parvati murtis is like peering into the eyes of the actual Goddess. She was alive in the statue and looking back into your soul.”
The facial expressions in his carvings had a softness and inner beauty in them that was unique to his sculptures. Looking into the eyes of one of his Parvati murtis is like peering into the eyes of the actual Goddess. She was alive in the statue and looking back into your soul.
Over the years I have unfortunately gotten news of artists passing and it shakes me to my core. It is truly sad to lose someone who has been a part of my yearly trips to India, someone I have spent so much time with discussing their statues. It is doubly sad to know that they will no longer carve statues for the world to see. When a master passes, himself and the promise of his future masterpieces passes with him.
The loss is more apparent when one realizes that there are few new novices to take his place. India is modernizing and there are many other possibilities for earning a living than there were previously, thus there are much fewer younger apprentices learning from the older masters. This is true all over Asia and it worries me for the future of this art form for generations to come.
From the day I came up with the idea to start Lotus Sculpture it was always my goal to keep the industry of statue making alive and thriving in Asia. Every statue bought puts life back into the family who made each statue and gives incentive for future artisans to carry on with the tradition of statue making. Just know that by buying from Lotus Sculpture you are doing your part to keep the industry alive. For this I thank you on behalf of all of our artisans and from Elumalai, whom you supported all these years.
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For a limited time we are offering free UPS Ground shipping on all orders within the 48 States. International customers will receive a 40% discount off the price of shipping. This discount will be extended to our Canadian customers as well!
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