The Sikh langar – tribute to humanity, benchmark in efficiency

Volunteers perform a breathtaking community service to humanity

The Golden Temple at Amritsar - BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

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In Sikhism, a langar is the community kitchen of a gurdwara which serves free meals to everyone irrespective of religion, caste, gender, social standing and ethnicity.

Although I have been to gurdwaras a few times and enjoyed their delicious vegetarian meals, I never had the chance to observe their operations – that is, until my recent visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

My visit to the langar of the Golden Temple held me spellbound as I observed the entire operations there.

Our tour guide briefed us at every section of the langar. We marvelled that this amazing kitchen feeds over 100,000 visitors daily, including tourists like us.

Devotees and visitors enjoying a meal at the Golden Temple – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

After our mouth-watering meal, we toured the entire langar, observing the workings of the immense kitchen, which operates throughout the day, every day.

The faithful and visitors to the Golden Temple or any gurdwara are obliged to cover their heads. Devotees and visitors to gurdwaras around the world are also welcome to a free meal at the langar.

Gurdwaras serve only vegetarian meals to accommodate the dietary restrictions of people of all walks of life.

The langar is a tribute to humanity, a benchmark in efficiency, especially evident in its specialisation of labour. Here, we witnessed the sincere dedication of the community in its unyielding efforts to serve meals to everyone.

What better service to humanity can any community carry out than serving all devotees and visitors in such a big-hearted way!

I noticed the staff working hard to ensure that all the devotees and visitors were fed generously. The speed with which these volunteers discharge their duties takes your breath away. Never have I seen community service performed so admirably!

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The specialisation of labour is conspicuous in the section where the volunteers, mainly women, are allocated various jobs – peeling and cutting onions, and chopping chillies, garlic, ginger and assorted vegetables.

Volunteers cutting chillies at the Golden Temple – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

All this work is carried out meticulously with clockwork precision. I was enthralled just watching these volunteers working so diligently.

Next, we made our way to the area where chapatis are made. The chapatis are either machine-moulded or manually prepared the traditional way. So if the machines break down or if there is a power cut, no fear, the chapatis can still be produced.  

The author trying his hand at making chapatis at the Golden Temple – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

Before leaving the Golden Temple, we headed to the section where tea or chah – with its unique taste – is served.

What I witnessed at the langar of the Golden Temple moved even a non-Sikh like me. Marvelling at how a minority community can make such an immense contribution through personal service leaves me speechless.

So, why are so many majority communities around the world continually complaining about so many trivial issues, when a minority community like the Sikhs can take on such a herculean task on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

Even in Malaysia, the Sikh community answers the call of service by providing food aid during any emergency, like in the aftermath of flash floods.

Kudos to the Sikh volunteers who work so tirelessly, serving not only members of their own faith but also visitors to their langar. Such a service showcases their immense humanity, efficiency and coordination.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Benedict Lopez
Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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Mani
Mani
8 Apr 2024 7.41am

I love sikh religion ♥️♥️❤️ thanks for sharing

Balwant Singh
Balwant Singh
7 Apr 2024 6.01pm

Thank You. Well Done Brother. Waheguru Bless You.