Friday, April 28, 2006

What's become of Langar and How to revive the original spirit ?


When Guru Nanak started the tradition of Langar upon his return to Kartarpur; it was meant to be its literal meaning: ‘The Anchor’ to bind the community together under the principles of Vand Chhakana . A simple diet of produce and water which would not only satiate the basic dietary need of the visitors, but of the needy, the servers and the Guru alike in their physical, mental and spiritual quest. Guru Ka Langar since then embarked on its journey enriched by the sweetness of Mata Khivi, the dedication of Bhai Manjh, the humility of Emperor Akbar, and the revival of the true spirit of the principle of Langar by Bhai Nand Lal Ji.

Whatever the transformation, the basic principles remained the same. Langar was kept simple. It was there for everyone to partake. Needy people knew where to go to satisfy their hunger if they could not provide for their family, and the community was bound together.
Unfortunately, today in the Diaspora, Langar is losing its meaning. It has lost most of its original characteristics. Let us see how.

1. Langar today is anything but the simple nutritious food it was intended to be.
2. It is not reaching the truly needy and homeless.
3. It has become a burden and in some cases a competition.
4. The Spirit of gratefulness and appreciation with which it is received is somewhat gone.


Simple and Langar are antonyms today. Loaded with ghee and oils, deep fried items, dairy, sugars, spices, refined white flour and artificial colors, our Langar today is complicated and refined Indian cuisine. You feel like you are eating fancy Indian Restaurant food only on the floor and in Styrofoam plates. You are virtually unable to move after you stuff yourself with Langar on Sunday afternoons. Was that Guru Nanak’s intention for Langar?

And by the way, what happened to feeding the needy and homeless? Do they even know that something like Langar exits? Granted, often in North America Gurdwaras are not located in areas surrounded by people having to beg for food. However, even the leftover food is usually distributed among the Sangat instead of being carried to shelters or low-income areas.

In the past Langar was prepared from the collaborative dasvandh and by the sangat pooling in physical sewa together complete with humility and dedication. Today in many western Gurdwaras, it has become the responsibility of individual families as they take turns providing the sewa. In the quest to show off their skills and resources, Langar has become so elaborate that some people are scared to take the responsibility for fear of not being able to meet expectations. This, in turn, means that a limited number of families keep getting assigned to the sewa. The pleasure and gratitude of doing sewa for the Sangat then becomes a burden every time they have to take their turn.

Another complication is that we produce so much non biodegradable trash during Sunday Langars from the North American Gurdwaras that I am certain it contributes to the pollution of our environment, to Nature, and to the Cosmic Physical Entity.
The Baani says, “Pavan Guru Paani Pita Maata Dhart Mahat” – Environment is the Guru, Water the Father, Earth is the great mother. Yet, we go out of our way to prepare fancy dishes that are costly both in time and money when we could put that time and money towards buying and washing reusable steel plates.

The spirit of thankfulness in which the Langar is received today is gone. If it is anything less than a lavish party meal done to culinary perfection, you can hear comments being whispered. On the flip side, unnecessary encouragement on elaborate and lavish food deters families who want to keep it simple. Instead they are forced to be flexible and keep up with the trend.

If we transform the Langar back to a simple daal, whole grain roti and a side of slightly cooked vegetables or a salad, we can easily satisfy our stomachs. We save time, money and effort, which we can spend on spreading the mission of Langar and other useful programs. Besides, we ensure that we are providing only nutritious food to our body, mind and spirit in accordance with the Guru’s Hukam:
Unni Duniya toRe bandhanaa ann paani thoRa khaayaa: They burn away the bonds of the world, who eat a simple diet of grain and water (SGGS – Ang 467)

It is a simple task to incorporate ‘serving the needy’ element back into Langar. Most Churches have a marquee where they display a Sunday message. We could advertise something to the effect of “Free Nutritious Food For All – Sunday 1-2 PM”. A volunteer could be assigned to receive the visitors, explain Sikhi and make sure they are served. What a way to serve the hungry and reach out to the community at the same time! In addition we could advertise in other venues like homeless shelters, local food banks, offices and universities campuses (you can find a lot of hungry; short of money and, eager to learn students).

Also, by doing this we will alleviate the evils of competition and the problems that arise at times when Langar becomes a burden. If the Langar was going to be just the three items of daal, roti and vegetables, it will be so much easier that more people will be willing to sponsor it.


Fortunately, in spite of the shortcomings, to a great extent Langar today is still the anchor that holds the community together; which gives us the chance and hope to revive it completely in its true meaning as Bhai Nadlal Ji did.

For readers who are not familiar with the context; during Guru Gobind Singh’s time Langar did take a ritualistic flavor. They were offered only after a whole sequence of ceremonies, i.e. Path and Ardaas. It also was opened only at meal times when all the dishes were ready. Bhai Sahib felt that the spirit of Langar needed revival. So he opened Langar at his house where, irrespective of the time of day, whatever food was ready was rationed to any who came. Guru Ji visited Bhai Sahib’s Langar and was pleased with the true spirit.

And now it is time for us to revive the true spirit and practice of this wonderful tradition.

Men, discuss Langar with your families, including its simplicity, impact upon the environmental, and nutritional value as well as the need to provide it in a spirit of dedication to the Sangat and the needy alike.

Ladies, stop that competition and let go of the desire for praise of your culinary skills. Add a piece of fruit if you feel the need for sweets at the end of Langar. Don’t worry; with the plenty of beans, lentils, legumes available in the market your daal will not be boring. With the array of vegetables, herbs and fruits your sabzi or salad can be simple, highly nutritious yet, colorful with nature’s beauty and taste. With whole grain flour available at all grocery stores around the continent; you can make the goodness and wholesomeness of the traditional Langar parshaade felt once more.

Gurdwara Management Leaders, talk to the Sangat to make Langar simple. Mandate it. Start a project to fund raise for those reusable steel utensils and build large sinks. Encourage youth to take on the dish cleaning sewa. And, make sure to get those biodegradable dishwashing soaps to protect the water and earth.

Youngsters, stop pressuring your parents to cater Pizza and donuts for Langar. It is neither nutritious nor prepared with sewa bhavna (serving devotion); nor are the devotional traditions in preparations observed, i.e. heads covered; simaran done.

Let us take whatever steps we as individuals can take on this road to transformation.
Let us make the Gurdwaras once again a model that anchors the community, revives our physical, mental and spiritual bodies, and caters to the needy with eco-friendly, nutritious, simple meals.

More information on the tradition of Langar can be found at:
http://allaboutsikhs.com/way/langar.htm

29 comments:

Pritam Singh Khalsa said...

Ohh my gosh! I was talking to Jessica about this a couple weeks ago but thought if I openly said this the Sangat would label me as radical. I already switched Gurdwaras for not even havinf floor sitting in existance, but finally made a 10ft square arear for this while about 15 people actually ate from this area. They also allow shoes because they dont cover the dirt to allow this which is understandable if there is a dirt floor but dont cover it with a tarp or something. People looked at me stupid for eatting there because it made them look bad i guess. I say the more traditional I get the happier I feel and Im white and not even a born Sikh. I also say they shorten Anand Sahib so the Prashad isnt properly blessed and they just laugh. I was telling jessica about how someone organizes the trash{a.e stacking cups and seperating a plate bags and cup trash} Id rather was steel plates with sand than sift through garbage. People each should donate two steel plates per head of the Sangat then it wouldnt be a managemental task but an induvidual one. Ive always wanted to eat out of Steel or Iron only not styrafoam and plastic. I have alot more to say but with let others comment also.I REALLY ADMIRE THIS POST FOR IT IS SOOO VERY TRUE!

Anonymous said...

This article is just amazing and shows how langar has evolved up till now. The evidence and example from the SGGS you provided were very good and reinforced the main issue. I will definetly spread these ideas as I go to the gurdwara. Great job and keep up the work.

Anonymous said...

This article is just amazing and shows how langar has evolved up till now. The evidence and example from the SGGS you provided were very good and reinforced the main issue. I will definetly spread these ideas as I go to the gurdwara. Great job and keep up the work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this details about langer. One time when I and my family visited historical Gurdwara in Punjab, India. At that Gurdwara, simple daal and whole wheat roties were served. Than my childeren ask me, why they are not serving Riata (yogurt), vegitables and sweets. Time has come, for our Gurudwara need to start healthy and simple langer the way Guru Nank started.

Sathanuman Singh said...

Cherdi Kala,
When first arriving at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, one realizes that the Guru's Langar is as described in this memo on "...How to revive the original spirit". At first when I sat down in the great Langar hall outside the Parkarma I noticed that it was very simple. I thought then it was because there are so many folks to feed. I was used to the various meals I helped prepare and serve as well as been served at various Gurdwaras from Washington, D.C. to LA.
When we lose the original reason for this unique practice, we can get very cultural and easily stray away from Guru Ka Langar. Degh, Tegh, Fateh!
We should remember what "Degh" means. When there is more food than needed, it should always be remembered that those who are in need should be served to nourish their souls.
"Oh, Hope of the hopeless,
Strength of the weak,
Shelter of the Poor...." Ardas-10th Master.
Thank you to the meditative minds that created this discussion. The Siri Singh Sahib ji has a smile on his face.
I am in complete agreement. The more simple the food we prepare, the more prayerful we are while preparing it, the more eccological we can maintain our preparation, the healthier the food prepared and served aligns us with the true teachings of our beloved Siri Guru.

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!

Mukhia Jathedar
S. S. Sathanuman S. Khalsa
Portland, Oregon

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being brave enough to discuss this. I agree... things should be back to the basics the way the western gurudwaras were years ago. There are gurudwaras in Long Island that not only disregard the entire principle of langar, but it has become sacriligious almost. I went to a gurudwara in UK, the new one, in Southhall and the langar was so simple, dal, roti, rice, one subji. thanks it. steel plates..

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I wish people could follow the suggestions given by the author and revive the real spirit behind the langar. The Langar sewa taken by various families is becoming a status symbol and hence leading to lots of competition. This feeling totally forfeits the purpose of 'Nishkam Sewa'.
Thanks for taking the bold step.

Anonymous said...

Great article Gurmeet Kaur jee,

I sent it to all my Sikh contacts and sevadars in San Diego.

We would like to publish it in the newsletter that we bring out every month, which goes out to about 400 families in San Diego and others.

You can see a copy of recent newsletters at:

http://www.sdsikhs.org/newsletter/issues.htm

Can we get your permission to publish your great article in this newsletter?

Thanks

Gurinder Singh
San Diego.

Balvinder Singh said...

I really appreciate your discussing this issue. There has been a very unfortunate change in the way langars are organized these days. The true maryada has lost and has given way to competition.

Even today, when I sit down in the pangat to eat langar, I look for the simple Daal and parshade. Most of the times, there are so many different things to eat, but my eyes look for the special langar daal. Nothing tastes better than the "Langar Daal and parshade" that are made with sangat's sewa and served with simplicity. The sweets, desi ghee, pizzas, etc being served in langars DO NOT AND CAN NEVER match the simple Daal and Parshade.

I hope and really wish that our Seniors and Community leaders and the sangat would think about it and do something to make the Langar the way it should be.

WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA
WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH

Balvinder Singh
Canada

Prabhu Singh said...

Great article Bhen Ji!
In our sangat (in Española, NM) we don't always have dhal and roti as we come from different cultures, but we usually keep it pretty simple. The cultural equivalent to dhal and roti and subzi is found. The seva responsibility rotates missals, each member in the sangat is part of a missal, when people who know how to make traditional dhal and roti do the seva, we get traditional dhal and roti.
It has a lot to do with what spirit is the seva done. I hope someday that we can have langar halls where ever people are hungry.
Raj Karega Khalsa!
WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa, WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh!

Sifar said...

Well thought and said. I have forwarded the link to our Gurdwara's newsletter editor and he may aproach you for permission to publish.

Anonymous said...

Very nice article. I'll ensure my talking to my local Gurudwara authorities regarding the same

Gulbarg Singh Basi said...

Dear Beta Gurmeet Ji:

Sat Sri Akal:

Read your article on Langer. Very nice thoughts. Specially the meaning and purpose of Langer We tend to feed ourselves rather than the needy. I do not mean we should not feed ourselves, however that is not where it should end.

Yes, I agree, Langer should never be mandatory or elaborate. Specially it should never be burden on the sevadaar contributing towards the Langer. Where it is so, it is more a deficiency on the part of management and then on the part of Sangat. It is unfair to expect more than what is available. Also the Sevadaar should be confident enough not to pay attention to what others might say about his Seva. Do the best one feels from inside and that is where it should end.

I do have a question. Where in the history do we have any evidence of being Langer being mandated to be simple Daal Phulka. Yes, we do find evidence of Langer being simple, or even limited, due to the available supplies. This was perhaps intermittently the case during the times second, and possibly third Guru Sahib. With fifth Guru Sahib and onwards the history points to better financial conditions. The dress code of Sixth Guru Sahib, and perhaps onwards, suggests more affluent living style. Certainly by the times of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the financial and life styles seem to be more affluent. So it appears that Sangat is to adjust to the conditions of the time. Be it Langer or the life style. (Guru Nanak is dressing like a saint, and Guru Gobind Singh dressing like a king). It appear that a Sikh is supposed to adjust to the available resources what ever they may be and be content in whatever they are.

Another question I am unable to resolve is on eating of meat by a Sikh. History seem to indicate that Guru Sahibs practiced hunting. If that is true what might be purpose of killing animals if not for consumption? On top of it the Rehat Maryada (even old ones) forbids eating of specifically HALAL meat. Therefore the non-Halal must be acceptable. I am not sure where the evidence of forbidding consumption of any meat comes from. Can you help?

Chardikala,
Gulbarg Singh Basi

S S Puri said...

Beti Gurmeet:
Loving blessings. Your article on Langar is well written and full of facts. I wish many more should come forward and start a campaign to modify Langar system. Hope you will get some action but it seems very doubtful.
Guru Rakha
Puri

Gurmeet Kaur, Atlanta said...

Dear Gurinder Singh Ji and others who are interested in distributing,

All have a permission to use this article for educating the Sangat as long as the original content is preserved in its entirity.

Thank You for your kind feedback and interest.

Gurmeet Kaur

Gurmeet Kaur, Atlanta said...

Respected Gulbarg Singh Ji,
Sat Sri Akal.

I so appreciate a feedback from a wise GurSikh such as yourself.

I am just a beginner in understanding Gurbani and the Sikh history, but I would like to answer your questions based on my limited understanding.

GS- "Where in the history do we have any evidence of being Langer being mandated to be simple Daal Phulka ?"

GK - The answer is: There is none; per my knowledge. There are mentions of Kheer, Mitthe Mann(Sweet Bread), vegetables etc.

I am no way suggesting that we restrict ourselves to a particular daal or phulke. In fact, eating a variety of foods is healthy for our body since different foods have different nutritional components. Beans, Legumes, Lentils; they all can be acceptable substitutes to Daal. Vegetables – Hundreds available to chose from; prepared very simply so they retain their nutrition could be added. Different grains can be added to make phulke or other substitutes of Phulke.

GS- “With fifth Guru Sahib and onwards the history points to better financial conditions. The dress code of Sixth Guru Sahib, and perhaps onwards, suggests more affluent living style. Certainly by the times of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the financial and life styles seem to be more affluent. So it appears that Sangat is to adjust to the conditions of the time. Be it Langer or the life style. (Guru Nanak is dressing like a saint, and Guru Gobind Singh dressing like a king). It appears that a Sikh is supposed to adjust to the available resources what ever they may be and be content in whatever they are.”

GK - Even when the Sikhs lived in more affluent lifestyle; Message of Gurbani remained the same. Being Soldiers was not a replacement to being a saint. It was an addition. The core saintly values were preserved. Silk robes did not replace cotton Kacchera, nor did gold replace Sarab Loh (Iron) kaRa. The result of Sikhs changing their diet to more affluent ; refined diet is already seen in prevalent obesity, diabetes, heart problems and hypertension in our community. How meditative can one be after gorging refined, fried foods, heavy sweets etc. The same logic applies to diet based on meat.

Guru Sahib’s message on simple diet is jugo jug atal. May I also refer you to a beautiful article on Diet and Spirituality.

http://www.gurbani.org/webart18.htm

GS – “Another question I am unable to resolve is on eating of meat by a Sikh. History seem to indicate that Guru Sahibs practiced hunting. If that is true what might be purpose of killing animals if not for consumption? On top of it the Rehat Maryada (even old ones) forbids eating of specifically HALAL meat. Therefore the non-Halal must be acceptable. I am not sure where the evidence of forbidding consumption of any meat comes from. Can you help?”

GK – The above article does help in answering the question about meat in relation to our spiritual goals. My understanding of forbiddance is of Kuttha (and not Halal - I believe Kuttha is the term used in Gurbani and Rehat Naamas) and that it is meat produced by animal cruelty and I do absolutely believe that all present day meat is a product of animal cruelty. I cannot justify or compare Guru Sahib’s hunting to today’s cruel mechanized animal farming for bulk meat production.

My favorite tuk from Gurbani advocating kindness is
“Dhaul Dharam Dayaa Kaa Poot” – Kindness is the mother of righteousness (Dharam).

And in my mind; not participating in any cruelty – including animal cruelty is practicing the biggest virtue identified by Guru Ji.

There is a good article explaining the word Kuttha and how it incorrectly implies Halal. I recommend it as well.
http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php?title=Vegetarianism#The_Word_Kuthha


All this having being said, these views are my own in my own pursuit of Guru’s message. I believe everyone has a right to pursue the Guru’s path in their own understanding and their consciousness and must not judge/fight with others.
After all:
Maas Maas Kar Moorakh Jhaghrrey. Gian dhian Nahin Jaaney. Kaun Maas Kaun Saag Kahaavey. Kis Mah Paap Samaaney.

I personally would like to err on the side of the vegetarian living. It has been my experience that I have been healthier, more conscious, gentler and more meditative, calmer and stress free human being after following this dietary discipline. I also feel good about being eco – friendly this way. I believe all this is also the historical reason for serving Vegetarian food in Langar in some way or the other.

I hope this helps.

Gur Fateh!

Gurmeet Kaur

jagdeesh singh, slough (England) said...

Dear Kalgihdhar Society:



Your highlighting of this much neglected feature of Khaalsa jeevan, is commendable! I totally agree with the views you have expressed below.



Langar is a very positive ethical practise, which the Gurus entrenched into Khaalsa society and psyche. Langar represents the plain and simple human spirit of caring and sharing, humility, service, community solidarity, union and equality. Langar is more than equality. A great deal more!



Recently, we saw the royals of England - Prince Charles and his wife - being provided 'langar' in separate and specialised form during their much publicised visit to Anandpur Sahib. The dignity and integrity of LANGAR once again being blown asunder to appease special royal visitors!



Furthermore, a much unrecognised feature of Langar in the modern materialistic profit-driven world, is the REVOLUTIONARY fact that this simple humble practise is totally without cost or price. Langar is a free and open supply of NATURAL food to all of society! Breaking the chains, prejudices and unjustices of poverty, starvation, priviledge, rich versus poor. There is no cost, no profit, no issue of giving first and receiving afterwards! This is indeed REVOLUTIONARY, given the price, competition and profit attached to food across the whole world. Multi-nationals, supermarkets, big companies, are all selling us food. Yes, selling, not providing. 'Food' in its multi-farious junk food, is about profit first and foremost; in this modern world. No-one can receive food free, without first paying a price for it. Only in the institution of LANGAR is this possible. Unlike the rotten, contaminated and distorted 'FOOD' of the western world, LANGAR has no price! People who have inserted cost factors and other man-made distortions into LANGAR, have broken the ideal of LANGAR and turn it, like so many other powerful features of the distinct and puritan Khaalsa jeevan, into another mish-mash of modern worldly life.



Guru-ka-Langar is about human spirit, togetherness, liberation, equality, dignity and, above all, a union with Akaal's creation. All the food supplied in Langar is supposed to be derived from NATURE, rather than the artificial unhealthy man-made forms that you have positively highlighted below. The current day practises described below are a gross breach of LANGAR. A gross disregard for the spirit and ethos of LANGAR!



LANGAR is produced with positive spiritual spirit of mind and thought, manifest in careful and ethical effort and resourcing. All of nature's food is PARSHAD, given to us by Akaal, the universal mother creator. LANGAR can only be LANGAR if produced from nature's soil using nature's enhancing processes. Food which is produced in artificially large and duplicated quantities, like Genetically Modified food and intensive agriculture (mass production using chemical boosters and fertilisers) which go beyond the grace and gradual organic pace of nature, is not LANGAR. Food which is artificially processed, sweetened, treated, etc, is not LANGAR. Chips and beans is not aunthentic LANGAR. Such man-made insertions - harming the body and mind - are a deviation from LANGAR. LANGAR is food direct from waheguru, through the medium of NATURE - our motherly carer & supplier.



The whole concept and practise of LANGAR is based on a society free from the plague and paralysis of money, competition, greed, profit and commercialism. The Akaali Nihangs still perpetuate this communal ideal, in the various gurdwaras of Panjaab. Nothing is owned individually. All is common, and shared. There is no issue of cost, price; much less loss or gain. All is part of the greater whole!, to partake wholesomely and give wholesomely.This is the revolutionary substance of the KHAALSA commonwealth. Too radical for us westernised modern Sikhs!!!



The above unitarian, collective, co-operative, communal spirit is the core of the KHAALSA ideal. It is revolutionary, as it breaks the stagnant and entrenched practises of 'everything has a price'. Nature gives freely and positively. Living in harmonious union with sacred Nature is the human ideal, epitomised in the Khaalsa lifestyle and community.



Let us embrace and return to the LANGAR ideals - natural, simple, free, collective, community, caring and sharing. So simple, yet so difficult in the complicated and distorted world in which we live!



"So long as the Khaalsa retains its ordained distinct ethos, I will give it support and assistance. However, when it decays into lesser and alternative ways, I will not give it my confidence and commendation."

Guru Gobind Singh





bhai jagdeesh singh, slough (England)

Anonymous said...

True, this article is really great and amazing. Especially touching the subject on area where the Langar is served. I have experienced dirt flying into my Thali by the servers walking up and downn the aisle while i'm eating. As much as we say that we should not throw away Langar or Prasad, no one would like to finish it with all the dirt in it. What is wrong with tables and chairs? You especially feel for the old generation where they come but are unable to sit on the floor. People still end up using milk crates, boxes, etc. So why is it that we cannot use table and chairs. We are still being respectful in terms of being bare footed and having our heads covered, doing our prayers.

Almost everyone of us has thought and have done ceremonies or Paths at the Gurdwara and have made all efforts to provide the best menu in town to impress our family and friends where we can also do this by inviting them home. We also have the option of doing these Paths and including people who worry every night as to how they will earn their next meal. But why would we do that and impress someone we don't know because we forget the real meaning of serving Langar. I understand the Langar these days has more variety than the day of the first Guru's but now we are able to provide more to the sangat and we would like to share. It doesnt matter what you are serving but what matters is that it is in your heart to do and follow the preachings of the Gurus. Please do not get me wrong by thinking that i am against by the friends or family attending the Langar but lets not forget about the real reason behind it.
I apologize if i have offended anyone but with time people have changed a lot of things in our culture just to suit their own needs.

Virender Singh said...

I admire your comments about Langar. Serving leftovers to homeless could be a problem. Our Langar is vegetarian. Most of the homeless people prefer to have chicken or beef. In the past when we tried to serve kidney beans, chickpeas and rice on Thanksgiving day,Response was very subdued.

Kulbir Singh Sevadar said...

Dear Gurmit Kaur Ji
Very well researched, analysed and equally well written, simple and thought provoking article on the Langar.
This article has already reached hundreds of Sikhs living in Australia.
May Waheguru bless you with more and more courage and strength to take similar initiatives.
Kulbir Singh Malhotra
Sydney Australia
21kulbir@khalsa.com

Sarib Singh Khalsa said...

Whether simple or fancy, preparing and receiving Langar is about love. Don't stop someone from going all out if they wan't to. It is kind of a silly idea.

Just prepare it with love. If your Langar is simple it doesn't matter. When it is made with love and devotion is better than anything.

rajwant singh kalsi said...

I conclude that you are certainly considering the langar sewa statistics of North America and Europe. In India it is simple as it should be and mostly langar is served on Steel Plates and cleaned with ash.
Because of he circumstances it is impossible for the Sikhs to go far back to the times when the ladies used Stone Wheels to grind the grain and others draw the water from the well, another group chipping the old tree trunks with axes etc. etc. I remember I have eaten langar on Banana leaf tray. Do you want to implement that olden style of sewa ? Do you know that a spoon is a luxury item of Langar utensil !
Surprises me that an improvement in the food variety for langar is considered not a good thing.Older sick people can not eat Roti, they need rice, so diversity attends them. Older people can not fold their knees they sit on bottles crate as a table & a chair is yet not acceptable in Gurdwaras.Taking Langar to the outer skirt of the town has no sense, one has to come to the Gurdwara Sahib listen the Path and do some sewa and sit with the sangat to eat.After langar sangat should exchange their ideas to increase the acquantance.I listened the comments of a Sewadar in a Delhi Gurdwara that hundreds of these people ( Rickshawalas )just come to eat here regularly and majority never ever even go to pay obeisance to Darbar Sahib.
Summing up,olden times have passed and our elders did all well according to their scope and possibilities. Now let the great sikh leaders reestablish the details of a Langar and implement. Is not it so simple ?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the article to an extent. If I myself have to do it I would do it this way, but when one belongs to a Sangat - the general consensous is what I followed. In our Sangat we did start with steel plates - but then it was always the same 3 or 4 people that were left - and do not take me wrong , I enjoyed doing it but times when we could not attend - it was a mess and after open discussion we changed to styro plates. Sometimes, we adhere to the circumstances for peace and sanity. Leftovers are always an issue in many gurudwaras and ours. I think if you do not have a shelter or some that do not like or accept vegetarian food, it is ok, but then in the sangat - first give to those who have health problems/or for some reason cannot cook (college students that come to attend diwan, single guys or older couple that barely make it) then the remaining should be taken by the others. I have seen ladies (it is usually them - sorry) take enough to cover atleast ,3 or more meals so they do not have to cook (taking/hiding specially rotis, even worst filling their car trunks before even the bhog - while diwan is going on) is shameful and I cannot beleive that their concious does not bother them. What is the sense of coming to gurudwara - DO YOU REALISE WHAT YOU ARE TAKING BACK.
ANyway, I think if we all take time to explore our insight only then this is feasable. Hope one day we attain that so the real meaning of Langar is spread to the non sikh community.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gurmeet Kaur,
Can u please write to me at
editor@kaurs.com

I will appreciate
Thanks
Rk

Satnam Singh, Naad Pargaas, Amritsar said...

Dear Gurmeet kaur Behanji,
You have noticed the decline in the spiritual aspect of the Guru's langar and have been pained by its gauntiness and declining spiritual participation, as have been other friends who have posted comments. Look at any other aspect of Sikh life. We have the same story for every aspect of the Sikh life. You will tire yourself analyisng and trying to "clean" them.
When a river gets clogged with various kinds of garbage, the wise don't weigh or evaluate and pick the variety of trash from it, they simply let clean water flow in abundance. This flow cleans up the river automatically.
Sikh life flows from the Guru, as a river would from its source. This flow has been reduced to a trickle. Thus the panthic life is stinking the way it is now.
People like you, who have been born and brought up in foreign lands, still have such love for the Guru's traditions. My head bows before your faith and love. But the training you have recieved during your education and living in the West has erected many transparent walls in your mind, through which you can see but not the whole picture. Your pain and sincerity cannot be questioned. But your brain has become habitual to think so logically and analytically, that even after a sincere excercise of looking at such like these "problems" , you come up with such answers that won't take us anywhere, and that don't satiate anybody's thirst. Even in Punjab, such education is being taught in ALL schools, colleges and universities.
I won't give my views on the sPIRITUAL SIDE of the Langar, but have just given you a glimpse of the problem. May be a few years, some of my friends who are working on theselike things, would come up with some very good articles on all aspects of Sikh life in form of books. Till then, Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!!Satnam Singh, Naad Pargaas, Amritsar

Gurmeet Kaur, Atlanta said...

To Satnam Singh Veerji from Amritsar


I am dumbstruck because of your thoughts and the fact that there is a lot of truth in your words…
Even though I refuse to see it exactly your way

1. that the river of Sikhi is so polluted that it stinks
2. that little bitty efforts would not restore it coz they are analytical in nature and don’t see the big picture & that ;
3. We the analytical minds miss the fact that Guru will clean it himself when the time comes


My perspective;
Guru works through his Gursikhs and the fresh clean water is nothing but the efforts (uddam) of his Gursikhs…Obviously since there are a lot of obstacles in the way (garbage as you put it), the fresh flow of water does not seem existent. But in time it will become significant and that is the inspiration that drives our ignorant minds to put forward the efforts in the best of our abilities.

But if our perspective is limited, which I acknowledge it is; What spiritual aspect are we missing ? I would love to hear your views. Please enlighten us.

Guru Fateh!

Gurmeet Kaur

Patwant Kaur said...

Responding in reference to the comment by Satnam Singh, Naad Pargaas, Amritsar:

In my very humble view, every little bit each of us can do to “chip away” at the garbage blocking the flow, is effective. To continue with your analogy of water being blocked, we could also realize the immense power of water to erode. Look at the Grand Canyon. By letting a little water begin to trickle through, it can, of its’ own power, begin to erode away the blockage. The river that formed the Grand Canyon isn’t especially large, but time and its own nature have proven to leave a lasting mark. If you can persuade even a few people to rethink their part in living a Gursikh life, wouldn’t that begin a trickle in the human garbage around us? Guru Nanak didn’t succeed in changing human nature, just the way some of humanity was living. What he did give that is everlasting was the message of the Guru – of love and compassion for one another and for nature.

Gurmeet, Your critic may have a point that we aren’t addressing all of the big picture – in a sense at least. But it seems all well-intentioned small acts come directly from the big picture (Nanak’s message) and so is linked to it forever. Just my humble thoughts……

-Patwant Kaur

Balbir Atwal said...

ਅਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲੇ ਘੁਲ ਗਿਆ
ਪੋਂਣੀ ਰਾਗ ਆਸਾਵਰੀ।
ਆਏ ਮਿਲ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਆਏ
ਮਿਲ ਰਾਵੀ ਤੇ ਗੋਦਾਵਰੀ॥

ਦੂਰੋਂ – ਨੇੜਿਉ ਸੰਗਤਾਂ
ਢੁੱਕਣ ਚਰਨ ਹਜ਼ੂਰ।
ਲੰਗਰ ਧੁਰ ਦਾ ਵਰਤਦਾ
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰ ਦਾ ਨੂਰ॥

from a long poem...

Amritpal said...

Balbir Atwal Ji,

Could you please send me the poem few lines of which you posted on this blog
amrit.enjoy@gmail.com

Regards
Amritpal singh