Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

UK Sikh temples feel strain of helping the homeless

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Archived_Member16, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2005
    Messages:
    3,451
    Likes Received:
    3,761
    BBC NEWS - 8 March 2013 Last updated at 05:13 ET

    Sikh temples feel strain of helping the homeless
    By Divya Talwar

    [​IMG]

    BBC Asian Network Sikh women preparing food in the temple kitchen


    The smell of onions and Indian spices fills the large room.

    The kitchen is open from 05:00 each morning and will feed langar - the free meal available to all worshippers - to nearly 300 people throughout the day.

    Peter Lowe is a non-Sikh and is one of the people here this lunchtime, sitting on the carpeted floor of the langar hall with the worshippers.

    Mr Lowe, 28, starting coming to the gurdwara when he was homeless a few years ago.

    ''I didn't have a job and I couldn't access any benefits, and I was struggling to feed myself'', he recalls while eating the langar.

    "Someone told me about the gurdwara and how I could come here to eat a hot meal.

    "When I first came, I didn't know what to expect. But everyone was very friendly and welcoming - they showed me around and never asked me for anything.

    "I would come to the gurdwara a couple of times a week.

    "It gave me a lot of support knowing that there was somewhere I could go to when it was cold and wet outside and I had nowhere else to go.

    ''The gurdwara was like my sanctuary.''

    Mr Lowe is now back on his feet and is studying at the University of Leicester.

    The Guru Nanak gurdwara in Leicester is just one of the places of worship which has seen a sharp rise in the number of people turning up for food and shelter.

    Anyone can enter a gurdwara, irrespective of religion, sex or background and all visitors are welcome to have langar.

    There are about 300 gurdwaras across the UK and the Sikh Council UK says thousands of Sikhs and non-Sikhs are turning up each week for meals and shelter.

    ''The homeless and hungry people coming to our gurdwaras is a growing trend we have seen in the last couples of years,'' said Sukhvinder Padda, the assistant secretary general of the Sikh Council UK.

    ''The economic situation has affected many families and gurdwaras are experiencing the outcome of that.

    ''More people are turning to our places of worship because there is growing awareness about gurdwaras and the fact that they are open to everyone,'' said Mr Padda.

    Continue reading the main story What is langar?Every gurdwara has a langar where all people are welcome to a free meal regardless of their sex, colour or religion. There are no rituals observed in the langar and everyone eats together. All the food is vegetarian so that no religious group is offended.

    Guru Nanak Dev Ji established the langar because he rejected the Hindu caste system where people of different castes do not eat together. Guru Nanak Dev Ji wanted to stress the idea that everyone is equal. Everyone shares the tasks of preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning. This shows sewa - selfless service to the others in the sadhsangat (community), the gurdwara, and the world outside.

    The teaching of the langar was continued by Guru Amar Das Ji (the third Guru) who made a rule that no one, however important, could see him until they had first eaten in the langar.

    Many gurdwaras are having to cope with problems of anti-social behaviour on their premises.

    ''This is a place of worship and on the board outside we have a clear sign saying, 'Please do not bring alcohol, cigarettes or drugs into the gurdwara','' said Sulakhan Singh Dard, the vice president of the Guru Nanak gurdwara.

    ''But we are having problems every single week with anti-social people who are drunk or taking drugs coming into our gurdwara.

    "I have had to clean vomit in the toilets and pick up cigarette butts left in the langar hall.

    ''Some people become threatening or violent when we turn them away and we are regularly having to call the police.

    "On one occasion someone we turned away told us he would come back with a double-barrel shotgun and shoot us all down," he said.

    While most gurdwaras are happy to welcome homeless people or anyone that is hungry on to their premises they will not tolerate individuals who do not abide by the rules of the temple.

    ''It is not acceptable to have to deal with anti-social behaviour in our premises," said Mr Padda.

    ''The government, the social services and local authority should be doing more to help these people. It has become a real burden and stress for our gurdwara."


    What is langar?

    Every gurdwara has a langar where all people are welcome to a free meal regardless of their sex, colour or religion. There are no rituals observed in the langar and everyone eats together. All the food is vegetarian so that no religious group is offended.

    Guru Nanak Dev Ji established the langar because he rejected the Hindu caste system where people of different castes do not eat together. Guru Nanak Dev Ji wanted to stress the idea that everyone is equal. Everyone shares the tasks of preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning. This shows sewa - selfless service to the others in the sadhsangat (community), the gurdwara, and the world outside.

    The teaching of the langar was continued by Guru Amar Das Ji (the third Guru) who made a rule that no one, however important, could see him until they had first eaten in the langar.

    Source: BBC Religion

    source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21711980#
     
    • Like Like x 8
  2. Loading...


  3. findingmyway

    findingmyway
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    3,767
    This is what langar is all about! Its wonderful to read that Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike are the seva of langar to access food and shelter. I do hope a problem for the anti-social behaviour can be found as it is not fair to deal with that. Perhaps local health services and police can help to set up pathways to help with drug, nicotine and alcohol addiction identified in the troublemakers?
     
    • Like Like x 8
  4. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
    Expand Collapse
    Mentor Writer SPNer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    1,760
    Likes Received:
    2,766
    A few years ago when there was violence during the elections in Kenya, my sister-in-law in Nairobi ran out of food because no food was coming into the city. Money we could send would not have helped.

    I suggested she go to a gurudwara. "If there is any food to be had, they'll have it and be happy to share."

    She was reluctant because those big, Indian men with turbans scared her. I assured her that they were perfectly safe and reminded her, "I'm a Sikh. You aren't afraid of me." She giggled. "Before you, I didn't know what the
    were called or that they even had women." Strange.

    In the end she went and, of course, was welcomed with open arms.

    :welcomemunda: :kaurhug:

    They gave her langar to eat there and some to take home and uncooked staples as well. And most important to her, no one preached to her. "You know at my church, we wouldn't give food to strangers, but if we did, we'd make them listen to the Gospel first."

    I explained that, while we welcome people who want to become Sikhs, we don't believing in trying to convert people.

    She was impressed and I felt very proud of the Sikhs of Nairobi.

    :kaurkhalsaflagblue:
     
    • Like Like x 8
  5. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
    Expand Collapse
    Apache Spark, Scala developer
    Writer SPNer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1,458
    Likes Received:
    2,147
    I don't like the We-have-had-enough flavor this article is having. I believe the news story should be 'Sikhs happy to support the homeless'.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  6. Rory

    Rory
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2012
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    323
    Awesome, the first thing I heard about Sikhism was the concept of langar and it really amazed me. This article made me smile (besides hearing about the anti-social whatever.. but as Kanwaljit-ji said, let's not focus on that)!
    :kaurkhalsaflagblue:
     
    • Like Like x 5
  7. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,634
    Likes Received:
    2,749
    This wonderful service offered to everyone has only come to the full attention of the public because there have been inner city anti-social problems.

    I have been told that in some cities the sangat can encounter threatening behavior from troubled citizens.
    A gurdwara does not exclude anyone and all street folk are welcome providing they have appropriate dress (no mini skirted hookers..etc.) and are not intoxicated.

    But there have been problems with these street folk themselves in between each other, and they shouldn't bring these issues in with them!
    The threat and burden is experienced in rare cases when only a few bibiyan will be in the kitchen and only handful of elder babey present. This is usually at quiet time periods of very early morning hours or very late at night.
    Most of them close or lock entrance doors after 9.30pm but a few numbers are always present and the lights will be on!
    This is when the odd ill tempered being may start banging the doors and issuing threats.

    Sadly, the police don't help and when higher numbers of general sangat are there, it's fine.

    These problems do happen and it can be scary for the few elders who can't actually understand what's being said, but the numbers are low -but still need to be addressed by the Gurdwara committees in terms of having some security and supervision.


    It can be done and has been done, when internationally UK gurdwaras made it known that they can defend the gurdwaras and surrounding areas when the riots were happening !
    If they can get the numbers for man power at times like that, then this should be easily taken care of.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    #6 Luckysingh, Mar 9, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  8. Rory

    Rory
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2012
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    323
    That made me smile too!
     

Share This Page