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Marley Amphlett

Marley Amphlett

Vesh Arumugam, ECU Reporter

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Walking around the Bell Tower and Barrack Street Jetty on the Swan River can be a multisensory experience, especially when the breeze disseminates the scintillating fragrance of mixed Indian spices from Annalakshmi, the riverside restaurant that serves Indian vegetarian cuisine with a “pay what you feel” price list.

The restaurant has been in Perth for many years, and it operates with the help of earnest volunteers. Arun Natarajan, manager of Annalakshmi, said that “Perthians’” generosity is the X-Factor of their business.

“Australians are the most generous people in the world,” said Mr Natarajan.

Marley Amphlett

 

A curious fact about Annlakshmi is that it exists because a Swami had a vision. Swami Shantanand Saraswathi, a Hindu spiritual leader, has served communities in Malaysia and India. He was drawn into spiritual path to serve mankind.

The spiritual leader didn’t just stop there. He started a school of fine arts that teaches Indian music, dance and drama and he also established Annalakshmi, an international chain of vegetarian restaurants.

According to Mr Natarajan, Annalakshmi Perth is located on the Swan River because “Swamiji had a vision about sitting on a river’s lap in 1974, and so in 2002 Annalakshmi moved from it’s previous location in a city high rise building to the banks of the Swan River.”

“Anna” in Tamil means food, while “Lakshmi” means Goddess of Prosperity or a Mother. Put  together, Annalakshmi is a Tamil word meaning The Mother who feeds unconditionally.

“We are doing things [feeding people] in unconditional way,” said Mr Natarajan.

Annalakshmi isn’t the only restaurant in Perth with a generous philosophy. There are other similar restaurants in CBD such as the Govinda’s (previously known as Hare Rama Hare Krishna), but Mr Natarajan said that there is no competition between these restaurants because “Money doesn’t play a part.”

Annalakshmi serves 300-400 people a day, in five hours of operation per day, which requires $3000 expenditure each day. The restaurant bounced back from the hard times it suffered during the construction of Elizabeth Quay between 2012 and 2015 with the help of a Facebook page  fundraising campaign.

When asked about why vegetarian food, Shankar Kandasamy, pioneer and a vital organiser of Annalakshmi said that it is not a sympathetic act to kill an animal. He added a very notable point too.

“Basically, besides ethical point of views, health points of view are very important,” said Mr Kandasamy.

He explained that animals undergo excruciating trauma when they are slaughtered and that this turns into toxins that get flushed into the animal’s muscles and veins. Upon consumption, the toxin gets transferred into the human body too.

“This toxin, when it doesn’t get flushed out of human body, becomes an issue,” said Mr Kandasamy.

Sobana Baskaran, accountant, is a regular customer at Annalakshmi. Mr Baskaran recalls an unforgettable incident at Annalakshmi.

“I was so hungry and that’s when I broke up with my partner. I had to eat to survive. So, I went to Annalakshmi and said I don’t have money to pay. All they said was we care about feeding you like how a mother does. So, don’t worry eat well.”

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