Respected GianijiGyani Jarnail Singh said:Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji ki fateh.
The problem arose because some people have TWISTED the meaning of PANGAT to mean "sitting on the floor". Pangat actually means IN A LINE, or ROW or Column. LOOK in any dictionary, kosh and you will see that not in a single place is PANGAT defined as "sitting on the floor". I have all the latest and olde dictionaries of Punjabi-English, even the ones on the internet on line, and most importantly even the MAHAN KOSH of Kahn Singh Nabha gives the meaning of PANGAT as LINE ( ktar).
Secondly there is a FALSE sense of "humility" attached to "sitting on the floor". This sitting on the floor is an Asian Trait...Muslims, Hindus and others also sit on the floor. Does this alone make all these EXTRA HUMBLE as compared to say the Christians ? Have these so called "humble" religion followers KILLED any less people, robbed any less people of their rightful lands, raped and plundered any less than say the Christians ? Are the Snakes, etc who CRAWL along the floor all their life.... any more HUMBLE than say other life forms ??
GURBANI and our GURUS were above all such "FRAUDALENT" behaviours...like ooch neech, such bhit, khooth such, bathing purity, jaat paat. GURU JI saw what caste divisions were doing to the people... LOW CASTES couldnt eat with the higher cates, they couldnt bathe at the same places as high castes, they couldnt walk at places frequented by high castes, they couldnt drink water from tas and wells of the high castes....THESE were the EVILS the GURUS tried to abolish by providing COMMON LANGGAR ( where everyone regardeless of caste etc ate TOGETHER ) they provided SAROVARS...where EVERYONE regardeless of caste COULD BATHE TOGETHER ( instead of separate wells etc ). IT so just happened that langgars catering to thousands were better served by FLOOR SITTING.. imagine the logistics of thousands of chairs, places to keep such in storage etc especially when Gurdwaras were rudimentary. For example at Holla Mahalla in Anandpur recently nearly 5 million people were fed Langgar daily for a week... fro such huge crowds langgar on the floor is a necessity...NOT GUR MARYADA REQUIREMENT.
There is NOT a SINGLE LINE in GURBANI or Bhai gurdass Ji's Vaars that REQUIRE SITTING ON THE FLOOR as MANDATORY MARYADA for Langgar...conveneince - YES, Practicality - YES, tradition - YES...BUT STRICTLY MARYADA - NO. In this instance ALL SINGLE LINES are taken out of context and given a twisted meaning...IF the ENTIRE SHABAD is taken as a whole and translated... the meaning will be clearly NOT what the Floor sitters say it is. IF Sitting on the FLOOR was that mandatory maryada the GUrus would have mentioned it more clearly and unequivocally in GURBANI and hukmnamas...BUT surprisingly it IS NOT.
Our GURUS were stricklers for HYGEINE rather than the brahmin ideas about sucham bhittam.. it is definitley more practical and hygenical to CLEAN and WIPE tables when langgar spills occur....THAN say Tappars and Saffan whcih are impossible to Clean if dal etc is spilled...it is all RUBBED IN for bacteria to spread. Wearing shoes when eating off tables in no way offends any sikhi/gurmat rule...but still no one wears shoes in langgar halls..BUT walking barefooted on tappars filled with dried up daal and kheer of yester years is definitley NOT HEALTHY for anyone...as a lot of DUST is stirred up directly into Thalis. Langgar halls floors and tables and chairs benches are WASHED every DAY...BUT the Tappars and Carpets are rolled up week after week, year after year....
Now lets us consider a few other relevant points:
The AKAL TAKHAT - this is NOT a building of bricks and stones . IT is the THRONE of AKAL PURAKH, WAHEGURU as opposed to the Throne of Delhi/any other country. The THRONE OF AKAAL just like the KHALSA of WAHEGURU are entities that are FOREVER...FREE of the shackles of Time, and this WORLD. Individuals, buildings, aikhs that are IN THIS WORLD will go after their time is over....BUT NOT the AKAAL TAKHAT....of the TIMELESS ONE. SO what "HUKMNAMA" will come from this REAL AKAAL TAKHAT - there can be ONLY ONE HUKMNAMA from this Takhat - the HUKMNAMA called GURBANI which is the Guiding LIght of the KHALSA. GURBANI is the ONE thing in this World that is TIMELESS and it comes from AKAAL - WAHEGURU. So we MUST look to GURBANI for guidance...GURBANI has been written ONCE, and it cannot be Changed or altered or Withdrawn or cancelled..IT is TRULY TIMELESS....and GURBANI doesnt say WE MUST SIT ON THE FLOOR for LANGGAR or it is WRONG to sit on Tables for Langgar. The WORD used is PANGAT and that means LINE, ROW, COLUMN...in other words... a ROW/COLUMN/LINE of people of all races, creeds, religions, height/weight/colour/caste/shape...TOGETHER sharing their FOOD so that NO ONE feels left out/neglected/slighted/in any way whatsoever.
Isnt it totally surprising that langgar on tables and chairs has been INSTITUTIONALISED in Overseas GURDWARAS for nearly 100 YEARS... countless jathedars, sants, priest, granthis, raagis, kathakaars including luminaries like Sant Principal Teja Singh Double MA ( from HARVARD) all VISITED these Gurdwars and ate langgar on tables and chairs and none saw any thing WRONG or anti maryada....until POLITICS reared its ugly head. This "hukmnama" has got to be the ONE that caused the most animosity, clashes, millions of dollars in litigations, police presence, fights and a CIRCUS of SIKHS in the World Media. The RSS and Anti-Sikhs must be Laughing till they fall of their own Tables and Chairs looking at what the Sikhs are doing to themselves.
The PRINCIPLES of RELIGION cannot be changed....but traditions, maryada, rrules, regulations etc can be changed and are changed according to time and period and society we live in. At one time every jatt in Punjab ate his luch under a tree in his khet itself..now a days many if not all come home to eat luch seated on a manja with an electric fan to cool down. Punjabi schools used to have classes on the GROUND outside under trees...now there are very few schools that do this. At one time all Rural wedings usd to take place in the village homes....and langgar used to be seved on khes and chadran...then came the Marriage palaces and CATERERS...no more cooking, no more khes and darrian...Times change and so do people..NO ONE can hold back such changes especially when they are NOT AGAINST GURBANI or the PRINCIPLES of GURMATT.
With due respect, let me remind you that concept of langar is not limited to sharing FOOD so that NO ONE feels left out/neglected/slighted/in any way whatsoever. It is much more than that. For me when I am sitting in a panghat and stretch my hand for drop of chapati, this is what is humility. Will you get that feeling while sitting on chairs. It is nothing more than buffet. In addition the unparallel beauty of this unique langer which no other faith till today has been able to match is chances are you will find a millionaire, your well-to-do neighbor, sitting next to peon or the taxi-wallah, both engaged in a gastronomic feast, suddenly equated by that basic human urge, hunger. It is an integral part of our heritage and still very much alive. It is another little “feather in our cap” that makes us unique! It is symbol of humility and equaility.
Same people who talk of heritage for replacing our old Gurudwara into marbles, do not remember that talking of bringing chairs and table is as much against our heritage.