In 1481, Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikh people started the tradition of serving free meals known as langar. Since then The Golden Temple in Amritsar is serving langar everyday to people who comes there irrespective of their religion or faith.
All the Sikh gurudwaras in the world serves langar. But the langar at Golden Temple is special indeed and not because it is finger licking good, but because the number of meals prepared and served in a single day makes for a massive job. Things never go out of hand at the Golden Temple as the number of volunteers interested in offering their services always exceeds the requirement.
Here are 10 things to know about the best Langar in the world:
1. The langar is vegetarian for one and the meals are healthy. You will find meals to be very simple but they are nourishing, nutritious and not to mention delicious. Roti, rice, Daal, a vegetable preparation, and mouthwatering kheer.
2. The Langar is probably the largest in the world owing to the daily servings. On any regular day 50,000 people eat the Guru ka Langar. On holidays/religious occasions, the number goes up to and even beyond 100,000!
3. The massive numbers are achieved by two dining halls which have a one time capacity of seating 5,000 people. The food is served by volunteers and as soon as someone’s meal is over, people leave for the next pilgrims to come and eat.
4. Now, serving 50,000 is no easy task and that means a huge lineup of workers who are called sewadars offering their help. 90% of these workers are volunteers who along with the 300 permanent sewadars help round the clock. This goes on from cooking the food to serving it. Some people go on and volunteer for days together.
5. The massive amounts of food is prepared in two huge Kitchens which have 11 tawas (hot plates), multiple burners, machines for sieving and kneading dough, and several other utensils. All the dishes are hand made by sewadars on normal days.
6. On holidays and religious occasions, a roti making machine is used, which can churn out 25,000 rotis in just 1 hour!
7. 100 cylinders are used to cook the daily food and one can only imagine rooms full of raw material that goes into making food for 50,000 people. As per rough estimates 5000 kg wheat, 1800 kg daal, 1400 kg rice, and 700 litres of milk are consumed daily in the kitchen.
8. Most of the raw material is brought from Delhi, or bought locally. The kitchen receives a lot of donations too, either in cash or kind.
9. One can only image that normal cooking vessels would not be enough for cooking food for a great many people such as at the Guru ka Langar. Therefore the kitchen uses large vats that can store as much as 700 kg daal or kheer at a time!
10. Hygiene is of utmost importance, both before and after meals. Dirty plates are handed over to another set of volunteers. Each plate is washed 5 times before being used again.
The selflessness and generosity of the volunteers at Harmandir Sahib shows that not only is this beautiful temple made of gold, but so are the hearts of the devotees who come to worship here.