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Meditation, pranayam help them stick fast to the cause

Meditation, pranayam help them stick fast to the cause

Author: Linah Baliga
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 21, 2011
URL: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-21/mumbai/29911666_1_fasting-hazare-rest-house

For 68 people at Azad Maidan, the past five days have been like no other in their lives. They've been on an indefinite fast since August 16 and divide their time between a dais at the historic ground and a rest house at Dongri Mahajanwadi. They haven't gone home since the pro-Anna Hazare agitation started.

The rest house is manned by the police and arranged by the Mumbai team of the group India Against Corruption. On the fifth consecutive day of fasting, apart from weakness and minor ailments, the agitators said they remained steadfast in their resolve to not give up till Hazare gets his demand of the Jan Lokpal bill being passed by Parliament.

It's a steady routine for those fasting. The day begins at 8 am. After drinking warm water, they meditate and do pranayam. They say a prayer for the country and follow it up with some yoga. After this, they sing the national anthem.

"The meditation helps keep the inner balance. Positive energy gets transferred from person to person. Had I been home, I would have been tempted to lose my resolve," said Dr Ratna Magotia, 63, a cardiac surgeon and one of the 68.

A bus ferries the people fasting at 9 am to Azad Maidan, the ground that has become the centre-stage in Mumbai of citizens' protests against corruption. "There is a CD to which we listen to help meditate. A continuous supply of warm water also helps. Every time we see the crowds interested in the agitation, we get inspiration . Even while lying down on the dais, whenever protestors mouth slogans, our hands automatically go up. We believe we can win this battle," said Nanda Mandlik, 52, a housewife from Vashi.

Mandlik said it's good that the people fasting have a place nearby to retire for the night, as they are not in a condition to go home. Courtesy the IAC team, there are helpers who assist women to the washroom. "When we stand up, we feel giddy. So we get help from girls who assist us to the washroom at Mahajanwadi," said Mandlik. There are seven women and 61 men put up in separate rooms at Mahajanwadi. They live like one big family in the rest house, with no economic or class barriers dividing them. Three doctors show up regularly to check their blood pressure and advise them.

"Some are dehydrated, their BP has gone down, and two are feverish," said Dr Kalpana Kamani, general physician, Chinchpokli. "But they have got strong willpower. So we are not giving any medicines. It's difficult to fast for five days."

Anita Singh, 39, of Panvel, was vomiting on Friday and had to be given medicine. Deependra Gupta, 18, who is fasting and an active volunteer, passed out from exertion while addressing a gathering. Both recovered and are still with the 68.

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