Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru started the concept of ‘Langar’. Guru Amardass, the third Sikh Guru, institutionalized this concept of sharing and caring. It is a process where Sikhs share their honest earnings to provide food for everyone –It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th-century India where Sikhism began. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. “…the Light of God is in all hearts.
aval aleh noor oupaaeiaa kudharath kae sabh bandhae |
eaek noor thae sabh jag oupajiaa koun bhalae ko mandhae |
First, Allah created the Light; then, by His Creative Power, He made all mortal beings.
From the One Light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad.
This is an important and integral part of Gurudwaras (Sikh place of worship). Wherever Sikhs are, they have established the langars for everyone. In their prayers, the Sikhs seek from the Almighty the favour: “Loh langar tapde rahin—may the hot plates of the langars remain ever in service.
The langar at the Golden Temple is a living example of the Sikh faith’s rejection of the notion of caste. It typically feeds roughly 40,000 people a day for free. On religious holidays and weekends, the langar can feed upwards of 100,000 people a day. This incredible feat is made possible through donations and volunteers. The langar never stops and on an average 7,000 kg of wheat flour, 1,200 kg of rice, 1,300 kg of lentils, 500 kg of ghee (clarified butter) is used in preparing the meal every day. The kitchen is run by 450 staff, helped by hundreds of other volunteers. The kitchen will use their automatic roti machine which can produce 25,000 rotis (Bread)/hour. Once the food is prepared, it is placed into smaller containers so volunteers can carry around the dining hall and serve. Everyone, regardless of faith and background is allowed in the dining hall Women, men and children all sit together. Before entering you must remove your shoes and wear a head covering. A traditional meal of lentils, rice, vegetables and roti is served. Everyone must sit on the floor as equals, so all people are on the same level and nobody is ‘above’ anyone else. There are two halls that can serve about 5,000 diners at a time Volunteers also wash the 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls used in feeding the people.
There are many Sikh Langar Seva International Aid and Disaster Relief teams which have been present at major disasters to to provide langar to victims of catastrophe. Relief services provide free food, survival kits, temporary shelter, and medical supplies.