|Part of a series on
Sikh practices and discipline
|Five Banis · Five Ks · Five Thieves · Five Virtues · Simran · Sewa · Three pillars · Sikh Rehat Maryada|
Langar (Punjabi: ਲੰਗਰ, Hindi: लंगर) is the term used in the Sikh religion or in Punjab in general for common kitchen/canteen where food is served in a Gurdwara to all the visitors (without distinction of background) for free. At the langar, only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat as equals. Langar is open to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.
The exception to vegetarian langar is when Nihangs (in India) serve meat on the occasion of Holla Mohalla, and call it Mahaprasad. There are also variations on langar, for example at Hazur Sahib, where meat is included. Langar is also a common term used across various units in the Indian Army, when referring to a mess, especially when there is no building and the food is served in open air (or through temporary arrangements like tents).
The institution of the Sikh langar, or free kitchen, was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. 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."
After the Second Sikh Guru, the institution of langar seems to have changed, somewhat, and meat seems to have been excluded from this institution. The reason cited for this by historians is the accommodation of Vaishnavite members of the community.
Besides the langars' attachment to gurdwaras, there are improvised open-air langars during festivals and gurpurbs. These langars are among the best attended community meals anywhere in the world; upwards of 100,000 people may attend a given meal during these langars. 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 hot plates of the langars remain ever in service.”
Notes and references
- UNITED SIKHS
- "The most special occasion of the Chhauni is the festival of Diwali which is celebrated for ten days. This is the only Sikh shrine at Amritsar where Maha Prasad (meat) is served on special occasions in Langar." The Sikh review, Volume 35, Issue 409 - Volume 36, Issue 420, Sikh Cultural Centre, 1988.
- The Myth of goat Sacrifice and Hazur Sahib
- Jhatka at Hazur Sahib Sikh Gurudwara
- Guru Granth Sahib pg. 282
- Singh, Prithi Pal (2006). "3 Guru Amar Das". The History of Sikh Gurus. New Delhi: Lotus Press. p. 38. ISBN 81-8382-075-1.
- A History of the Sikh People by Dr. Gopal Singh, World Sikh University Press, Delhi ISBN 978-81-7023-139-4. "However, it is strange that nowadays in the Community-Kitchen attached to the Sikh temples, and called the Guru's Kitchen (or, Guru-ka-langar) meat-dishes are not served at all. May be, it is on account of its being, perhaps, expensive, or not easy to keep for long. Or, perhaps the Vaishnava tradition is too strong to be shaken off."
- S.R. Bakshi, Rashmi Pathak,, ed. (2007). "12". Punjab Through the Ages 4 (1st ed.). New Delhi: Sarup and Sons. p. 241. ISBN 81-7625-738-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Langar (Sikhism).|