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“Langar”,a kitchen for equality

THE LANGAR IS THE PUNJABI TERM used in the Sikh religion for the common kitchen, where food is served in a Temple called gurdwara to all visitors, without distinction of faith or background for free – our free community kitchen.

Flipping of chapatis

The “pangat” (sitting and sharing food in a row)

Preparation in the common kitchen “Langar” and serving by “Sewadars” (volunteers)

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, is the largest kitchen in the world serving more than 100,000 free meals a day.

At a Langar, only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat and it is designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. All sit together in a pangat, which literally means “row” or “line”, to share and enjoy the food. Langar usually consists of Roti (chapati), Dhall (lentils) and Kheer (sweet rice porridge).

The principle of Langar dates back to the 15th century in India when even the mighty Mughal ruler of India, Emperor Akbar, had to first sit in pangat lined up with commoners sharing simple foods before he was allowed to meet with the Guru. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, is the largest kitchen in the world serving more than 100,000 meals a day.

The institution of  Langar has served the community in many ways, where men, women and children participate in a task of service for mankind. Women play an important role in the preparation of meals, and the children help in serving food to the pangat. Langar also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation, which has played a great part in upholding the virtue of sameness of all human beings; providing a welcome, secure and protected sanctuary.

At the Kuching gurdwara, preparation starts on Saturday evening where all ingredients are cleaned and washed by Sewadars (volunteers). The cooking starts as early as 6.00am on Sunday and usually ends around 8.00am. Lunch is served between 12.30pm and 1.30pm at the dining hall after the weekly Sunday prayers (open to all). Cleaning follows thereafter.

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