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Langar (Punjabi: ਲੰਗਰ) (kitchen) is the term used in the Sikh religion for the common kitchen/canteen where food is served in a Gurdwara to all the visitors, without distinction of faith, religion or background, for free.
At the langar, mostly only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat as equals.
Langar was first started by Baba Farid, a Muslim of the Chishti Sufi order. It became a common practice amongst Sufi Muslims in South Asia and it was later adopted by Sikhs. In Sikhism the practice of the langar, or free kitchen, is believed to have been adopted 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. There is no evidence of meat ever being served in langar.
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 the langars for everyone. 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
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