When I was growing up, we often volunteered at a local homeless shelter during the holidays.  I have vague memories of what exactly we did, but I seem to remember that we did some serving of food, spent some time playing with the children.  We brought donations of clothes, toys, books and even more importantly, brought our time.

Those memories all flooded back when I recently visited the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib on two separate occasions.  One with my friend Pam, and one with Miss Pauline from Classy Chaos.

My first post was about the main area of the Gurudwara, including the pond and the temple, and this post will be about Langar Hall.

Langar is the Punjabi word for "free kitchen."  Each and every Sikh temple, has a Langar Hall, where all people, regardless of skin color or religion or gender, is allowed to eat. It is a place where anyone and everyone is welcome to volunteer and share their time.

This place is amazing.

There is never any meat served (so that literally everyone may eat there regardless of dietary or religious requirements).  They never turn anyone away. 

Every day, chapati and a lentil dal is served to approximately 500 people every 15-20 minutes. 

They serve from noon to 4:00pm.  Do the math.  That's an amazing number of people that are served a nourishing and hot meal, EVERY day of the year.

This guy was happy to share a bit of the process with us.  There are paid staff that work the langar, as well as volunteers.

We somehow missed getting to see the process of washing the dishes, but the rest of it was simply amazing. 

The chopping, the boiling, the rolling and pounding of chapatis,

. . . the ladling of dal with huge spoons, the passing of the food down the lines.


The Langar receives funding from wealthier members of the community and through small donations at the temple. Farmers also donate vegetables!

 At the end of our tour and impromptu photo shoot, we were invited to sit down and eat.

The peacefulness, resourcefulness and sense of community at this Langar Hall was bar none.  Religion takes a back seat to humanity at the Gurudwara and the hospitality shown, given and required inside of the confines of the kitchen was awe-inspiring.

3 of you said:

Upasna said...

as a student in the UK, we'd often go to a Gurudwara to eat yum food for free...There's something about the langar food. Sometimes I feel though they cook in bulk, noone's able to recreate the same magic in the dals at home even...

Anonymous said...

We used to go to the temple in Makindu, Kenya when travelling to Mombasa from Nairobi. The food was fantastic, many of the cooks were africans. What is amazing is that this temple/gurudwara was in the middle of nowhere (in a arid location), in a little place that had just a few residents in the immediate vicinity. They had their own little orchard and vegetable garden as well. Last time I was there, the place had grown, there is now a "farmers" market just outside the gurudwara, and lots more residents.
In Kenya, the tradition was to make a donation everytime we went there, mind you, it was unsolicited.
We are not sikhs, but this is one of the fondest memories we have of our trips to Mombasa

Anonymous said...

Very nice report on your visit to a Langar ! Fascinating !

I've never been to a Langar - and, dare-I-say-it, I'm Indian :-)!!
So, your trip-report was quite eye-opening for me too !

I will make it a point to visit a Langar sometime soon :-).

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