Of the many traditions followed inside a gurudwara, one is the famous “Langar” (community kitchen). The practice of serving free food to everybody irrespective of religion, caste or creed stems has its origins with the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. The practice of “langar” was started by Guru Nanak as a revolutionary act at a time when the caste system in India was accorded the highest importance. At the southeast end of the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar, an enormous amount of people are fed food on a regular basis. The entire process behind the “langar” is conducted in an amazingly orderly manner, with every single volunteer (sevadaar) knowing his or her role perfectly well.
The meals in the langar are always vegetarian, simple and nutritious. The meals normally consist of rotis (bread), daal (lentils), a vegetable dish and kheer (pudding made from rice). The main kitchen consists of two dining halls which can accommodate around 5,000 people at any given time. The food is served by the volunteers while they are seated on the mat on the floor, and after they finish their meal, are replace by the next group of people. It’s a laborious and herculean task, and yet, it is carried out with the utmost grace and efficiency. The 90% of working staff that work here are comprised of volunteers along with 300 permanent sewadars. It is estimated that the daily food preparation takes about 50 quintals of wheat, 14 quintals of rice, 18 quintals of daal and 7 quintals of milk, along with 100 gas cylinders!