Kindness in Culture – India

There is an increasing amount of research revealing that human beings are inherently kind and compassionate. And there are many examples of cultures and communities that live in alignment with these values. Arunesh our volunteer blogger is exploring this theme to uncover inspiring stories of ‘kindness in culture’, from around the world.

Ever heard about a mega-kitchen which serves thousands of people day in and day out, that too for free? This service is truly out of the love for mankind and known as ‘langar’ or ‘Guru ka langar’, which basically means a common kitchen at a Gurudwara, where food is served to all the visitors at absolutely no cost.

It is believed to be adopted by the first Sikh guru, Sant Guru Nanak and has been followed since then within the Sikh community. Each and every day, a number of pilgrims are fed for those who seek it. No person is turned down who knock upon their doors. The sole purpose behind this practice is to uphold the principle of equality amongst all people regardless of their background or social status. This a revolutionary concept all together in the caste-based society of 16th century India where Sikhism began. Additionally, the tradition of langar carries forward the ethics of sharing, community and oneness of all humankind.

So let us venture deep into this culture of langar, something which has been creating a lot of difference in the lives of people. What the Sikh people do is that they prepare delicious food, high in quality and full of nutrients. This meal usually consists of daal (lentils), rice, roti, a vegetable and kheer (sweet dish). All of this is prepared in massive utensils for the masses and curated by one or more Sikh families every week. It is prepared with much love, not to forget the divinity involved in it. Being served twice within a day, the process is quite methodical and very disciplined​. The people are made to sit in straight rows and need to cover their heads while eating as a mark of respect for the food. Once the lot has consumed their part of langar, another batch of citizens pour in for the next round of serving.

In India, the Golden Temple at Amritsar is considered to be one of the most sacred gurudwaras for the Sikhs. The footfall at the langar of this temple is about 50,000 each day which doubles up to 100,000 during the festive season. Just imagine the magnitude at which the preparations are done, thus the kitchens work almost 20 hours a day. To cater this huge demand a number of volunteers known as ‘sewadars’, come together and take part in providing service to fellow human beings.

The sheer scale of operations, including the number of devoted volunteers makes it the greatest example of participation of Sikhs in the service of humanity. What noble act will you witness other than this which is so selfless and pure. Every man and woman is served a holy meal without being turned away. This also exhibits their welcoming nature along with a strong desire to make a significant impact in the lives of people. You will see the same enthusiasm and generosity across all the gurudwaras in the world with the only aim of spreading kindness and assuring equality among people from all walks of life. It is really heartening (and the best examples to look forward to) example of the culture of kindness. More power to them!

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