Diwali Fireworks Launch the Nainika Allergy Safety Campaign: Making Temples Safe for Allergy Sufferers
As thousands gathered for the Diwali fireworks at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the temple leaders and a host of community and political leaders, took to the stage to launch the Nainika Tikoo Memorial Trust’s allergy awareness campaign for places of worship. The gathered crowd listened with baited breath as Lakshmi Kaul and Vinod Tikoo spoke of the tragic loss of their beloved 9-year-old daughter, Nainika, who lost her life in May due to a massive allergic reaction. As Lakshmi described her pain at turning off of the ventilator that kept Nainika alive, her tear filled grief was shared by all present.
On any given day temples serve hundreds of pilgrims a good nutritious meal known as Prasad, or blessed vegetarian food. However, that food could be life threatening to those who suffer from allergies. As the numbers of allergy sufferers increases, temples need to be aware, and make others aware of the ingredients and allergens in every plate of Prasad. Temple Managing Director, Gauri Das announced: ‘we are honoured to become partners of Nainika’s Trust. We need to make our temples safe for allergy sufferers. One simple mistake can cause utter devastation. We need to do this for Nainika’.
The Nainika Gold Standard can be achieved once a set of criteria, such as correct labelling, warnings, and first aid response are put in place. Lakshmi explained, ‘We understand that establishing such standards will take time, therefore we have developed the bronze, silver and gold standard. Places of worship and other such institutions can gradually work toward full compliance.’ Representing the National Council for Hindu Temples, Satish Sharma pledged full support: ‘Dear Lakshmiji and Vinodji are close members of the NCHTUK family. The speed and manner of Nainikas passing came as a blow to the Council. We fully support every effort to prevent any other family from having to face such a tragedy. We will certainly be working with the trust and the Manor to help the Gold Standard initiative become commonplace amongst the Temples of the UK and possible even further. They our full support’.
The key dignitaries that joined to launch the campaign included the Watford MP Hon’ble Minister Richard Harrington, Conservative peer Hon’ble Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere Brenda Batten, Deputy Mayor of London Rajesh Agarwal, and number of councillors from Harrow, Hertsmere and Watford.
Mother of Nainika, Lakshmi concluded the launch with tear filled words: ‘Vinod and I are grateful to team at ISKCON Watford led by Gauri Das for taking on this rather steep challenge. It demonstrates that the Mandir is fully committed to ensuring there is compassion and inclusivity among devotees and pilgirms. It is a great step forward for all Dharmic communities and ISKCON have led by example in this noble effort to ensure safe environment and facility for all allergy sufferers.
Five months back Nainika was declared dead in the hospital. It’s humbling to have managed to launch the #NainikaAllergySafe campaign in association with one of the largest temple congregation in UK and Europe.’