Sikhism has been carried forward through Sakhis (real life stories about the life and times of the Sikh Gurus, which imbibe values considered core to Sikhism) and one of the first Sakhis is about the concept of the Langar. It is said that in the late 1480’s, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was given Rs 20/-( a princely amount in those times) to go and strike a good bargain and make a profit. Guru Sahib left and on his way found a group of saints who were very hungry. Guru Sahib had a word with them and discovered that they hadn’t had a full square meal for quite some time. He thought through his father’s direction and concluded that there just couldn’t be any deal more profitable than feeding wise men who were hungry. As per Sakhis, this is how the concept of the Langar was born.
A Langar essentially means a common community kitchen, where food is prepared and served. Here are a few essentials to the Langar:
- The raw material for a Langar should be procured or contributed by an honest living.
- Food thus cooked necessarily needs to be distributed as widely as possible.
- We must be humble and keep our ego aside at the time of Langar.
- Langar should be had in a Pangat (row) of people, regardless of religion, gender, age, caste, creed or color.
- Langar must be served with a spirit of Sangat – (community gathering), with everyone being equal. It shouldn’t matter who is serving and who is being served.
- Langar must be cooked with the same spirit as it is cooked for one’s own family and friends.
- Langar must be cooked fresh and served fresh and must not contain leftovers.
- Langar should be a voluntary/contributory effort.
Langar can be very basic, just a daal (lentil soup) and roti (bread made of wheat dough). In practice, Langar comprises of the following:
- Sabzi (freshly cooked vegetables)
A Langar is expected to be and is vegetarian. At Gurdwara Hazur Sahib (Nanded, Maharashtra) and a couple of other Gurdwaras, goat meat is served as a Mahaprashad, as per historic traditions on certain specific days.
If you have not had Langar yet, find out a Gurdwara close to where you live and ask them about the day and time when they serve Langar, all are always welcome. Enjoy!