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Sikh News Tradition Of "langar" Spreads Worldwide !

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Centuries old tradition of ‘langar' spreads worldwide

Jallandhar: The centuries old tradition of serving ‘langar' (community meal served to people irrespective of caste or religion) in gurudwaras is symbolic to what Sikhism stands for.

Langar is served in all the gurudwaras across Punjab and the method of its preparation is similar everywhere, including the famous Golden
Temple of Amritsar.

The tradition has evolved with time and
technology, keeping its essential character of service to humanity.

Gurudwara Sri Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar is said to be the gateway to Sikhism. Guru Arjun Dev, fifth Guru of Sikhs, had had its foundation laid by a Muslim saint, named Hazrat Mian Mir Ji, in the 16th century.

Sikhs treat Sri Harmandir Sahib as a symbol of
spiritual and historical tradition. For thousands of pilgrims who come here to offer prayers and gain inspiration, langar at Guru Ramdas free Kitchen is quite an experience.

The Guru-ka-langar was started by Guru Amar Das, fourth Guru of the Sikh. Tonnes of prasad (holy offering) is served here everyday.

The meals served are free of cost and its taste is unbeatable.

“The taste of the langer, especially, of the dal (pulses) is unbeatable. It takes time to prepare it. It is kept simmering for hours and the quantity for a one-time preparation is 1 quintal to 2 quintal. We use Mah ki Dal (Whole Black Beans) and Chana Dal and boiled. For one quintal of dal we use 7 kilograms of ‘desi ghee' (butter). And the other ingredients we use are onions, ginger, garlic and other exotic spices. I have found that no other dal is as delicious as the ‘langar dal',” Gurudwara's Manager Ajayab Sigh says.

People who are engaged in making these meals for the pilgrims feel that serving in the langar is the best form of offering prayer.

They contribute their efforts in preparing chapatis, which is served with pulses and vegetables. This spirit of service has been continuing since the birth of Sikhism and, they say, will remain so.

Interestingly, new technology has been adopted to make chapatis in the gurudwaras. These are now made under sterilised conditions by using the Maxiflour Automated System. The machine is used 14 to 16 hours everyday and with its multi-speed system it helps to make three to six-thousand hot chapatis every hour. Every visitor to the gurudwara returns marvelled at this technology.

“We have seen the whole process and as I was told that quintals of food was served in a day long occassion yesterday, and I would rather say that this is only possible because of god's grace. This is just impossible for a human being to do,” says Prem Chander Jha, a visitor from Kolkata.

All visitors, labourers and the elite eat together upholding the principle of equality. All of them are treated with dignity and are served the same food in the same manner.

Pawan Kumar, a visitor, feels that the freshness and cleanliness with which langar is served at Sri Harmandir Sahib cannot be achieved at home as no one can duplicate the taste of food.

“Although the same ingredients are used at home, the taste that one get at langar doesn't come in the food prepared at home. This is all the grace of the God,” says Pawan.

The legend has it that even Mughal emperor Akbar sat at a ‘sangat' on the dining hall floor for langar and said that sitting close to mankind had been an exhilarating experience for him.



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