Langar means a communal free kitchen or a communal meal. Though this word found its first mention in history only in the beginning of 1800s, the practice of serving free hot meals to anyone irrespective of their religion, race, gender or any other such worldly bases of discrimination started in 1481 by the first Guru of Sikhs, Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself. This tradition started in the Golden temple in Amritsar, but soon spread to all the other Gurdwaras wherever in this world are they located.
Yet, The langar in The Golden Temple stands out because of some very interesting and jaw-dropping facts. Here are 10 facts you must know about the Langar at the Golden Temple (The largest free kitchen in the World):
1. The Golden temple in Amritsar serves 50,000 to 100,000 people per day every day
The langar in the Golden Temple serves food on each and every day (not just on Sundays) to people ranging around 50,000 in number which stretches to 100,000 during special occasions like festivals, making this langar the largest free kitchen in the entire world.
2. Standard Nutritious Meal
The huge number of people to be served does not in any way translate into a meal composed of less number of food items. The meal is made of a set number of items, namely, roti, rice, dal, vegetable curry and kheer. The meal is highly nutritious.
3. Only Vegetarian Meal Served
The meal is strictly vegetarian. When the first Guru started this practice, the main motive behind it was to feed everyone in the society as equals and to uphold the principle of equality irrespective of religion, caste, race, gender or social status. This revolutionary concept was a big blow to the caste-ridden Indian society back then.
4. Infrastructure: 2 Large Dining Halls
This huge number of people are accommodated in two large dining rooms with a capacity of about 5000 people each. As one is done with their meal, they are promptly and politely asked to make way for the others waiting to get a bite of this sumptuous meal.
5. Efficient Sewadars Include A Lot Of Volunteers
And obviously, the langar needs a lot of hands to serve these thousands of people. The people who serve and help out are referred to as ‘SEWADARS’, which literally means ‘helpers’. There are about 300 permanent Sewadars and the rest (about 90%) of the workers are volunteers – devotees and others who voluntarily offer their services in this langar either for a few hours or for the entire day.
6. Jumbo Sized Vessels And Utensils Used To Cook Food Every Day
Considering the amount of food needed to serve such a large number of people, huge utensils are used to cook and store this vast amount of food. There are about 11 Tawas (hot plates), several burners, machines to sieve and knead the dough needed to make rotis and other utensils in two large sized Kitchens. There are humongous vats of capacity up to 700 kilograms used to make and store the daal and kheer.
7. Hand-Made Delicious Food Served Every Day
Usually, the food is hand made by the Sewadars, except on special occasions, when the number of people to be served is considerably higher than those on normal days, a machine which can make about 25000 rotis at a time is used. It is heartening to know that this machine was donated by a devotee based out of Lebanon.
8. Tons And Tons Of Raw Material Goes Into Making The Meal Every Day
As you can imagine, the size of raw material required to make food in this largest free kitchen of the world is equally massive. Get ready to get your mind blown away by the numbers you are going to read – 50 quintals of wheat, i.e., 5000 kilograms of wheat, 1800 kilograms of dal, 1500 kilograms of Rice, 700 liters of milk are cooked over several burners using a 100 gas cylinders. And BTW the aforementioned stats are for JUST ONE DAY.
9. Raw Material Used Is Bought As Well As Donated
These enormous amounts of raw material are usually bought locally or in Delhi, which is about 450 km away from Amritsar. Some of the raw material is donated by the devotees as well.
10. Hygiene Is The Top Priority
Despite the huge number of diners who eat at the langar every day, the place blossoms with Swachhta (cleanliness) and hygiene. The vast number of used plates and dishes are cleaned five times before they are reused by a set of volunteers who are present to do this job exclusively. This shows how hygiene is not compromised at any cost at the langar of the Golden temple.
There is a lot made of gold here in Harmandir Sahib than just the structure of the temple, all we need to do to recognize that is see through the layers of materiality, and we will find a gold mine in everything and everyone. Just what Sikhism preaches – “ If you can’t see God in All, you can’t see God at all! (God meaning Good)