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Langar, The Sikh Community Kitchen

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Aman Singh, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    Sikh Community Kitchen
    by Gurmukh Singh

    Sikh Community Kitchen Sharing with those in need is a Sikh trait. It is a central and distinguishing characteristic of the Sikh way of life which has seen the Sikh nation through some hard times, especially in the 18<sup>th</sup> century. “Wand shakna” as the practice is called, is a social equaliser. It is an egalitarian principle, which stresses equality of all before one Creator through the basic human right to share food and resources, especially when the times are hard.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Through “wand shakna”, those who are better off donate in humility and in gratitude whilst all take part in the sharing of food and shelter with dignity. Those who give feel blessed to be in a position to donate and serve fellow human being whilst all who partake enjoy the glow of community spirit and oneness before the One Provider.

    The Sikh welfare concept of “Wand shakna”, becomes ever more relevant in the global village as an increasing number of economies run into difficulties and shed millions of workers. The daily headlines in the countries we live in are about the plight of the jobless, including migrant workers. For example, in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">UK</st1:country-region>, a recent headline reported 600 applications for one job. Migrant workers, many illegal, are being paid £2 an hour. When times are bad, local media starts blaming migrant workers. A headline reads, “3.8 million jobs go to migrants” (from outside <st1:place w:st="on">Europe). Such far right sensational reporting spreads discontentment amongst the majority community and disturbances follow.
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    As we have seen in recent times, the visible Sikh identity becomes a target for racialists at such times. Yet, to my mind, these are the very times, which give us the opportunity to educate people in the countries we live in about what Sikh identity stands for. We have the ideology and the great institution of the gurdwara to serve, to share and make ourselves better known to those who mistake us for the religious fanatics spreading global terror. There are now a large number of gurdwaras in most western countries, the doors of which are open to all. Let the message of receiving the needy with open Sikhee arms, spread.
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    A few days ago, a white eastern European walked over as we were pushing our shopping trolley towards the local Tesco car park. He asked in strong European accent, “Where gooduara ?” At first I could not understand, but my wife did, and told me that he was asking for the way to the gurdwara.” From his clothes and bearing, he looked more like a working person than a drop-out. He could hardly speak any English but by sign language I pointed him in the direction of Hounslow Gurdwara about two miles away. He thanked us and moved off briskly in the given direction.
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    Later that day, at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Park Avenue, Southall, we saw similar working types – one of African decent – having langar with heads covered with Khanda-bearing head-covers. (This is not the pounds 18 million show-piece gurdwara in need of continual maintenance costs and attended by the affluent few, but the one close to the Southall town centre, attended by hundreds all day.)

    Times are hard and there are thousands hardly able to afford daily meals. These are human beings in need. Guru ka Langar is a Sikh institution which allows us to share with others. We may not be able to provide shelter, but we can provide food for thousands. Sikhs are generally doing well in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">UK</st1:country-region> and other countries and can afford to give generously in the Guru’s name. This is the time when gurdwara managements should come up with initiatives to help the needy.
    Sikhs do get many opportunities to project the Sikh ideology and identity. Whilst the agenda of other religious charities may be to seeks converts, that is not the Sikh objective. It is the creation of a fairer and just society in which “wand shakna” without distinction, becomes a social norm.
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    #1 Aman Singh, Sep 29, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
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  3. harbansj24

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    Feb 19, 2007
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    Amman Singh Ji,

    A few days back, (21/09/09) I had posted an article "Mid day meals for the deprived children in Chandigarh" which had appeared in the Tribune of Chandigarh.

    It talked about 20000 deprived Children being fed in Chandigarh on the Jehangirpuri Model of Delhi. It utilised the services of women belonging to the lowest strata for this work.

    You had commented that Sikhs should have been in the forefront for taking up this task.

    But now, let alone taking up such a task, the Sikhs themselves are outsourcing langars of their own Gurudwaras.

    I had talked to Ashok Rao, the person who had initiated this task. He offered that if any Gurudwara is willing to adopt a particular area or locality for this work, then he will happily give the benefit of the experience gained by him and his organisation and is willing to train needy Sikh women to take up this work.
    He is confident that given the Sikhs background and history, this venture if taken up by the Sikhs would be highly successful.

    So can this idea be given prominence to the forum membership so that some suitable project could be explored in collaboration with local gurudwara any where in India?
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  4. findingmyway

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    Aug 18, 2010
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