This gold-plated structure is one of Sikhism’s most sacred shrines and revered pilgrimage sites, located in Amritsar, Punjab. Built around a small lake, Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib is known for its cathartic influence on people and serene environment. People from faraway places come here to find peace, tranquillity, redemption, and in search of a higher meaning from life. It is said to be the place where Buddha spent time several thousand years before Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru of Sikhs, visited here to meditate. Over the years, several of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s disciples frequented the site, and in time it became a famous place for people to visit.
What is Langar?
Apart from the grandiose of the place, one of the things that satisfy the visitors is the Langar, a free meal in the community hall, that is served at the Gurdwara. Golden Temple is known to have one of the biggest community kitchens in the world, serving thousands of people every day.
By virtue of Sikhism’s preaching, the Gurdwara has entry gates from all sides, signifying that everyone is welcome to visit it, regardless of caste, colour, creed, religion, or sex. There is no basis for discrimination for anyone and everyone is treated equally. The langar, which is always a delicious and fulfilling meal, is served at all times of the day and the service is done mostly by volunteers who do it of their own free will as part of Sewa, keeping the kitchen and service running 24 hours a day. They help chop vegetables, make the meals, rotis, at times desserts, and even serve the entire crowd.
How Big is the Langar Kitchen?
Usually, all the meals are hand-made, but the Gurdwara does have an automatic roti-making machine, with a capacity of delivering 25,000 rotis per hour, which is used only during extreme rush hours. It is said that on a normal day, more than 50,000-60,000 people eat langar here, and during religious gatherings, the number may spike up to 100,000. This makes the sheer scale at which the entire system operates grand and impressive. With such large crowds being served every day, the Gurdwara procures raw material in bulk by the donations it receives, either in cash or kind. One would be astounded to see the vessels used to make meals, which are big enough to hold several quintals in quantities.
Where is Langar Served in Golden Temple?
Golden Temple has 2 community halls where everyone is supposed to sit on the floor and eat their meals. While the dal (lentils) is served to you in your plate, one has to raise their hands to take the roti (bread) with religiosity and gratitude. Once the volunteers serve the food to everyone present in the hall, one of the volunteers makes a clarion call, “Jo Bole So Nihal”, meaning, Whoever Utters Shall be Happy, to which the crowd responds with, “Sat Sri Akal”, meaning True is the Name of God, and then the crowd commences eating the meal.
What all is there in Langar?
The meals are simple and vegetarian, with a usual serving of pickle, rotis (bread), dal (lentils), and kheer (rice pudding). Apart from being flavoursome, they are very nutritious. Utmost hygiene standards are maintained during the whole process. Once you are done with the meal, you are supposed to put the plate in designated spots, from where the volunteers take them to be washed and cleaned thoroughly several times.
Interesting Facts About Langar at Golden Temple
Apart from being the largest free community kitchen in the world, langar served at the golden temple has many other attributes to its credit, like:
The langar is served to everyone, regardless of their caste, colour, creed or gender.
It is said that on a normal day, more than 50,000-60,000 people eat langar here, and during religious gatherings, the number may spike up to 100,000.
The meals are simple and vegetarian, with a usual serving of pickle, rotis (bread), dal (lentils), and kheer (rice pudding). Apart from being flavoursome, they are very nutritious.
It takes a huge task force to deliver food to people coming in great numbers. Apart from having around 300 sewadars in-house, Golden Temple witnesses hundreds of other volunteers who undertake the operations of making and serving the food and cleaning the utensils and the place after each round.
Highest standards of hygiene are maintained while cleaning the dishes and vessels, with the utensils getting washed over a few times so that they are clean.
These volunteers do it for a couple of hours, and some stay up for days to do the sewa.
On normal days, the food and rotis are made by hand by the volunteers. However, on special days, the roti maker, donated by a supporter from Lebanon, is used, which can make up to 25,000 rotis in just an hour.
With such large crowds being served every day, the Gurdwara procures raw material in bulk by the donations it receives, either in cash or kind.
One would be astounded to see the vessels that are used to make the meals in, which are big enough to hold several quintals in quantities.
Given the scale of operations, it goes without saying that hundreds of gas cylinders are used during the day, and huge quantities of raw material are used on a daily basis. The whole process of preparing the meal in such sweltering kitchen heat, serving endless meals to the visitors, and cleaning the plates, is done without any burden by or creases on the forehead of the volunteers, which is apparent from their smiling, pious and content faces. Upholding the tenets that Sikhism is based on, which emphasises on the importance of Sewa or service, this free community meal is a fine example of how to cleanse your inner self and become more rooted. The place is as pure and the hearts of the volunteers are as golden as the name of the place itself.