Langar is the provision of free food to the needy in a religious context. Its origin is from Sufism (Islam) because serving of food to the needy has been a rich tradition in Sufism, especially of the Chishti Order. There is extensive use of free food imagery and metaphor in Sufi writings. Sugar and other sweet foods represent the sweetness of piety and community with God, while salt symbolizes purity and incorruptibility. Through the pronouncement of Bismallah during the bread-making process, the bread is imbued with spiritual power or barakat, which is shared by those who eat the bread. The transformation of the raw wheat to finished bread is used as an analogy for Sufi spiritual development.
Sufi ritual observances (dhikr) are concerned with remembrance of God through exaltation and praise. Singing, dancing, and drumming are commonly part of such rituals, as is sharing of food. For example, ashura is a dish that takes its name from the festival celebrated by the Shia sect of Islam. During preparation of the ashura, mullas stir the pot in a special way while pronouncing the name of God. Sharing the ashura then becomes a way of spreading remembrance of God in the form of bodily nourishment.
The tradition of Langar was also adopted by the Sikh community, where it goes by the same name.
- Kathleen Seidel, Serving Love, Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook", September 2000. Accessed 15 January 2010.
- Blackwell Synergy - Muslim World, The, Volume 95 Issue 4, pages 604–608, October 2005 (Article Abstract)
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