The institution of the Sikh langar, or free kitchen, was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. When Guru Nanak Dev ji were 12 years old when his father gave him twenty rupees and asked him to do a business, apparently to teach him business. Guru Nanak Dev ji bought food for all the money and distributed among saints, and poor. When his father asked him what happened to business? He replied that he had done a “True business” at the place where Guru Nanak Dev Ji had fed the poor, this gurudwara was made and named Sacha Sauda
It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th-century India where Sikhism began.
In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. “…the Light of God is in all hearts.” For the first time in history, Guruji designed an institution in which all people would sit on the floor together, as equals, to eat the same simple food. It is here that all people high or low, rich or poor, male or female, all sit in the same pangat (literally “row” or “line”) to share and enjoy the food together. The tradition of serving langar Initiated by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and then established by the 3rd Guru Sri Guru Amar Dass Ji at Goindwal.
Besides the Langars attached to gurdwaras, there are improvised open-air Langars at the time of festivals and gurpurbs. Specially arranged Langars on such occasions are probably the most largely attended community meals anywhere in the world. There might be a hundred thousand people partaking of food at a single meal in one such langar. Wherever Sikhs are, they have established their Langars. In their prayers, the Sikhs seek from the Almighty the favour :
“Loh langar tapde rahin.”
“May the iron pots of Langar be ever warm (in service).”
Even the Mughal King Akbar came and sat among the ordinary people to share langar.
Importance of Langar to Sikhism Bhai Desa Singh in his Rehitnama says, “A Sikh who is ‘well to do’ must look to the needs of his poor neighbours. Whenever he meets a traveler or a pilgrim from a foreign country, he must serve him devotedly. Maharaja Ranjit Singh made grants of jagirs to gurdwaras for the maintenance of langars. Similar endowments were created by other Sikh rulers as well. Today, practically every gurdwara has a langar supported by the community in general. In smaller gurdwaras cooked food received from different households may comprise the langar. In any case, no pilgrim or visitor will miss food at meal time in a gurdwara. Sharing a common meal sitting in a pangat is for a Sikh is an act of piety. So is his participation in cooking or serving food in the langar and in cleaning the used dishes. The Sikh ideal of charity is essentially social in conception. A Sikh is under a religious obligation to contribute one-tenth of his earnings (daswand) for the welfare of the community. He must also contribute the service of his hands whenever he can, service rendered in a langar being the most meritorious.
The institution of Guru ka Langar has served the community in many ways. It has ensured the participation of women and children in a task of service for mankind. Women play an important role in the preparation of meals, and the children help in serving food to the pangat. Langar also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation, which has played a great part in upholding the virtue of sameness of all human beings; providing a welcome, secure and protected sanctuary.
Everyone is welcome to share the Langar; no one is turned away. Each week a family or several families volunteer to provide and prepare the Langar. This is very generous, as there may be several hundred people to feed, and caterers are not allowed.
All the preparation, the cooking and the washing-up is done by volunteers and or by voluntary helpers (Sewadars).
Guru Ka Langar (Langar Hall) : Community Kitchen In the Golden Temple Community Kitchen at an average 75,000 devotees or tourists have langar in the Community Kitchen daily; but the number becomes almost double on special occasions. On average 100 Quintal Wheat Flour, 25 Quintal Cereals, 10 Quintal Rice, 5000 Ltr Milk, 10 Quintal Sugar, 5 Quintal Pure Ghee is used a day. Nearly 100 LPG Gas Cylinders are used to prepare the meals. 100’s of employees and devotees render their services to the kitchen. Where is Community Kitchen in Golden Temple Amritsar community kitchen location in golden temple amritsar Guru Ka Langar (Community Kitchen) in Golden Temple Amritsar.