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Memories Of Childhood Gurdwara-Mr Big's Langar

Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
All of us probably have memories of our childhood spent at Gurdwara, the Gurdwara that I spent my childhood at, every sunday, with my parents was a very very nice place. We would normally get there around 11am, by which time the Kirtan would be in full flow. My mum loved the kirtan, really loved it, and you knew by a special look when it was time to walk up to the Vaja, and put a pound by it, and then bow to the SGGS. A good walk up and perfect bow with hands together was always rewarded with a serene nod and smile by mother, however socks with holes resulted in a slight shaking of the head but still a smile.

I normally got bored by this point and headed off to the kitchens where I could just play around with the two huge sinks, and start washing up. Although this was not my ideal sunday afternoon passtime, it was infinitely better than listening to kirtan, or worse, one of the committee, unless of course he got into a verbal battle with the 4 old ladies at the back who refused to be quiet while he was talking, which was always amusing. So I used to fill two steaming sinks of hot water, one full of bubbles, the other to rinse, and away I went.

After a while mum would come and drag me back in, normally just before ardass, Dad would always make some contribution, and our names would be read out, however the biggest contribution was always made by Mr Big.

Every Gurdwara had a Mr Big, he was a chubby soul with an immaculate beard and perfect turban. He was also the owner of a huge business and for some reason always drove a black Mercedes (s-class of course) . You knew Mr Big was doing Langar because of all the little touches, firstly there would be 3 curries! and one of them would be Kofta! and the rice pudding had almonds in, and finally, in a move designed to show Mr Big was in fact Mr Big, Pooris, how he pulled them off no one knew, but he did, and it was definately worth missing CHiPs for.

I saw my uncle and grandfathers bodies there, when they passed, my auntie get married, my brothers first time at wearing a turban, and of course we did a few langars of our own. Looking back, it was a place of sanctuary and peace, an extremely polite place.

Years later I took my wife to southall Gurdwara, and was delighted to note that the same spirit was there. My wife found it enchanting, down to the 5 year old girl that kept staring at her in the langar hall, before gesturing to her and saying in a very little voice 'you have to cover your hair in the langar hall as well'. I showed her how to matha tek, in front of SGGS, and remembering my mothers smile if we did it right, watched her and thought mum would have approved.

Of course Mum and Dad had the oppertunity to see it for themselves, the last time they left for India, I whispered to my wife, we should touch my parents feet, just as a gesture of respect, so I bowed down, and with a single hand lightly touched my fathers foot, to stand up and see my dear wife doing Matha Teka to my mother.

I think I will go to Gurdwara this weekendicecreammunda

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