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GURU KA LANGAR ‘The word “Langar” in Punjabi language ‘means a kitchen or the place where the needy can get food’. In Si Guru Granth Sahib? itrefers tothe passing on of the Divine message to the assembly of devotees through the Guris word as well as to the distribution of food to ther’ The practice of serving food to visting devotees started withthe frst Guru, Si Guru [Nanak Sahib. Besides the people living with Orin service of the Guru, numerous visitors ‘woul come to see him from faraway places, Guru Nanak Sahib and the succeeding Gurus made arrangements for providing them food, shelter, and other necessities duting their stay. Regardless of who provided the funds forthe food and ts distribution itis called "Guru Ka Langar’and not of any person or persons. All contributions ae offered to Siri Guru Granth Sahib and itis through the Gurus grace that everyone receives the food. It is said that, during the reign ofthe fith Gury, Siti Guru Atjan Sahib, a group of devotees coming from Lahore decided to spend the night at Chheharta - a village about four miles from Armritsar ~ and to visit Guru Sahib the next moming. Guru Sahib ‘came to know ofthis, He got food prepared for the party and personally took it to CChheharta, Continuing the practice introduced by the Gurus, every gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) provides food and often shelter to. all Visitors regardless oftheir religious belief, race, gender, social status, or any other distinction. Langar is served after every ‘congregational event held in the presence of Siri Guru Granth Sahib. In large ‘gurdwaras which have visitors coming and. going at all hours, food is served all day - Sometimes round the clock. The Langar at Siri Darbar Sahib in Amritsar serves nearly a hundred thousand meals every day. a Aview of Langar being served ata gurdwara [At many gurdwaras, regular service with large attendance is typically limited to weekends. However, even stray visitors dropping by at any time can be assured at least ofa simple meal - consisting perhaps ‘only of flatbread and lentil soup. Many religious and philanthropic organizations have arrangements to feed the poor and the needy. This is laudable but implies the lexstence of an underclass that 's needy anda generous upper class that helps feed it In the Sikh religion, equality ofall people is emphasized. The Langar institution represents sharing’ and not charity’ The importance of Langar in Sikh life can be appreciated by the fact that when, asa conse- quence of partion of India in 1947, nearly two milion Sikhs came to India as refugees, the local population received and provided for them at the gurdwaras through Guru Ka Langar Inthe Langar Hall people take their shoes off and cover their heads. tthe entrance to the Langar Hall scarves are provided for ron Sikhs and shoe racks are installed where shoes are taken off and safely left. All sit cross-legged on the floor: runners are often Used to mark the rows.Thisiscalled"Pangat: All those who come to share the langar are treated as equal To emphasize this, everyone has the same type of seating and the same choice of food which is served on platters or even large leaves. n western counties, many gurewaras use foam or plastic plates. Large ‘gurdwaras often use steel or plastic rays. Vol Lnteers walk in the aisles serving food and water, Some gurduwaras have a buffet style langar where they fein line and ae served in tum by volunteers Food served in the Langar is vegetarian. In the-gurdwaras in the United States and Canada, it generally Includes chappatis, rice, lentils (daal),a vegetable preparation, and dessert. Tea and snacks are generally available, Volunteers prepare the food, serve it, and later do the clean-up. While the food is prepared, prayers from Siri Guru Granth Sahib are recited, (On occasions, Sikhs take out Siri Guru Granth Sahib in a procession. Five formally initiated Sikhs with drawn swords walkin front of the carriage carrying Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The congregation follows on foot. On such occasions, Guru Ka Langar Is served to all, including bystanders, at various points along the route Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations Bh Kaan Singh Nab, a nko ‘Gan Granth Sah conto tec ofthe Gas aswel a selected compestons bj several Hind ane Musi holy men Sis Gur Gobind Singh Shy he tench ands Gurvinhuran fren declared St Gar Granth Saad the Cart arth comorsng a formalin Shs a5 the tema Gu Si Gar Gant Shi, 1480 page version page 967, eerng tothe second GS Guu Abad evs congegton Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations GURU KA LANGAR ‘THE GURU'S KITCHEN) by Ranbir Singh Sandhu www sikhinterfaith.org