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Seva Power

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by spnadmin, May 19, 2009.

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  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Equality is the Core of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Free Kitchen

    May 18th, 2009 by Zoe Tarlow Source: www.kwantlenchronicle.ca

    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/May/kitchen-pic.jpg​
    It is busy in the Life Skills Centre's lobby this morning. Residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have come to watch a movie, meet with friends, talk with a support worker or do some laundry. The combination of it all is loud and chaotic.​
    The scent of homemade Indian food drifts into the lobby, luring people into Guru Nanak's Free Kitchen for their fix of food and laughter.

    Balloons are scattered throughout the room. Everyone is drinking out of vibrant, rainbow-coloured cups.

    The white, boxy room could come off as sterile and cold without these colours dispersed throughout the room, but what really makes Guru Nanak's Free Kitchen feel so warm and welcoming are the people who fill it.

    There is no long line-up of people impatiently waiting to get their food.

    At this free kitchen people wait in a small line, chatting amongst themselves or to the volunteers.

    Guru Nanak's volunteers speak to them no differently than they would speak to someone wearing a suit and tie.

    After the homeless patrons have filled their trays with food, they sit down on one of the rows of carpets lined up against the wall and in the midle of the room.

    Since November 2007, the Sikh community has united for five days every month to serve free traditional Indian food in the Downtown East- side, and now they offer take-out on Sundays as well.

    Jas Duhra has taken a day off work as a bus driver to volunteer as a coordinator. He began volunteering at the free kitchen in August and does not think twice about taking the time out of his busy schedule to be here.

    "People are hungry. Bottom line: they need food," he said.

    "We're here to serve the community. It doesn't matter what their situation is, whether they're a drug-addict or whatever," said Duhra. "You shouldn't judge anyone."

    The kitchen is open all day long. Cooks begin preparing the food at 5 a.m. and other volunteers serve the downtown require the homeless to go to religious services before the food is served.

    Guru Nanak's Free Kitchen is operated by volunteers, and people of all faiths are welcome to eat or volunteer.

    The event is inspired by the Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and "Langar," is the Sikh word for communal kitchens.

    It is customary in the Sikh religion to feed people who cannot afford food.

    The main concept behind Guru Nanak's kitchen is that everyone is equal. "We're all God's children," said Duhra, who follows the teachings of Sikhism.

    Shane Turner, managing director of the PHS Peer initiatives, works at the Life Skills Centre and provides services for the Downtown Eastside. Turner said that members of the Downtown Eastside community "build up barriers" because of the traumas in their lives, which result in prejudice.

    Racial tensions are not an issue inside the free kitchen, the way they might be on the streets. Turner said that being in a multi-cultural setting where everyone is equal shows residents of the Downtown Eastside that "we're all working together, not against each other."

    Some faith-oriented free kitchens downtown require the homeless to go to religious services before the food is served.

    Turner said that pushing religious views can turn a lot of needy people away. At Guru Nanak's Free Kitchen, they will discuss their religious views if they are asked.

    Dennis Gates, a resident of the Downtown Eastside, sits on a chair towards the back of the room, his cane beside him.
    "The food is great and the people are friendly," he said. "I think it's important for everyone to have a chance to get to know other cultures."

    According to the most recent Free Meals List for Vancouver, the only other traditional ethnic meal that is served for free is at the Gold Buddha Monastery, which serves a vegetarian meal on the last Sunday of every month.

    For more information see www.gurunanaksfreekitchen.com
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    Service is the theme of Sikh philosophy

    2 Jun 2009, 0000 hrs IST, KULBIR KAUR



    The concept of or seva is central to the spirit of the Sikh faith. God is all-pervasive and what better way to realise Him [​IMG]

    Service is the theme of Sikh philosophy (TOI Photo)


    than through service?


    He is not separate from His Creation; so serving Him by serving what He has created is the ultimate duty of every Sikh. The Sikh often prays as did Guru Arjan Dev: `As Your servant, I beg for seva of your people, which is available throughalone.'

    Seva or service occupies a central place in Sikhism where no worship is conceivable without seva. The spirit of service not only creates in one's heart love and affection for others but also helps the person overcome his ego, the main obstacle in the path of realisation. Service is suggested as a practical way of life for a Sikh and he is expected, among other things, to meditate on the Name of God and perform service for the welfare of humanity.

    Service could be of any kind serving the poor and needy; giving and providing food or shelter, helping a person in distress, saving someone in danger or reading the scriptures for his solace or providing services for the common good. These acts are considered far superior to the countless sacrificial fires and performance of ceremonies or mere meditation and worldly knowledge, says Bhai Gurdas.

    Seva can be rendered in any form through labour, feelings or material means. The first is considered as the highest of all and is prescribed for every Sikh. Dignity of labour is realised foremost in Guru ka Langar, the community kitchen, and in serving the sangat, the holy assembly. Langar is the unique way of combining worship with seva. One can contribute in cutting of vegetables, cooking of food, distribution of water and langar, washing of utensils, cleaning of the premises, taking care of footwear as well as in collection of rations.

    Langar, therefore, becomes a place of training and helps develop the notions of equality, hospitality and love for human beings. It makes you humble by helping you curb your ego. Humility is a special virtue recommended to the Sikhs. It can be acquired through seva. The Sikh prayer, Ardas, ends with a supplication for the welfare of all, 'Sarbat da Bhala'. The attitude of compassion should be combined with a practical way of serving God through His Creation.

    Seva through material means should be a silent and non-personal contribution. It is meant for the welfare of the community and the whole humanity and should be done in a way as to help dissolve one's ego. Even in serving others, one serves not the person concerned, but God Himself through him. Even as one feeds the hungry, it has been the customary Sikh practice to pray: 'The grain, O God, is your own gift. Only the seva is mine which please be gracious enough to accept.'

    Service should be done without any expectation of reward. Desire for any reward in return turns it into a bargain and it ceases to be a service. 'He who serves without reward, he alone attains God'. True seva, as proclaimed by the Gurus, must be performed in humility, with purity of intention and without any desire for reward. Service is its own reward that leads to liberation. `We get eternal bliss through the service of God and merge in the peace of poise,' says the Guru Granth Sahib.

    Service is the theme of Sikh philosophy - Speaking Tree - Spirituality - Lifestyle - The Times of India
     
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