The concept of Langar offers non-Sikhs the chance to learn about Sikhism during the first week of November.
In recent years, Langar entered the public domain as a “common, free kitchen and food that is served to visitors of a Sikh temple.” But the concept has a deeper meaning for Sikhs. In the 15th Century, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of the faith, invented Langar to promote a message of equality that transcends religion, race, gender and social status.
The importance of preparing, cooking and sharing food together helps an individual find both spiritual and physical nourishment. All the food on offer is vegetarian, so a person is not excluded on the basis of diet.
For many Sikhs, National Langar Week presents the opportunity to observe ‘Seva’ – selfless service, which means many volunteer their time. But with rising poverty, more than a million people in the UK now use food banks, and some are using gurdwaras as an alternative, and demand is stretching some temples.
Around 300 gurdwaras across Britain are serving hot food on a daily basis. Figures show that roughly 400 tonnes of rice, vegetables, sugar, salt, flour and other ingredients are used on a weekly basis. Only the generosity of donations helps sustain demand.
Rupinder Kaur Virdee, the co-founder of the Sikh Press Association, told ITV News: “Sikhs share the same British values as the rest of the country…We set up National Langar Week in order to open the doors to our communities as well as our way of life, and what better way in which to do this, than by the sharing of food.”
The concept of Langar will hopefully inspire new dialogue between Sikh and non-Sikh.
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