The Kitchen at the Golden Temple Feeds up to 100,000 People a Day for Free
The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), located in the city of Amritsar, India is a Sikh gurdwara (place of worship). It is the most well-known gurdwara and is considered a sacred place by Sikhs. It was first constructed in 1604 and was later rebuilt in 1764.
Located inside many gurdwaras are common kitchens/canteens known as a langar. At the langar, food is served to all visitors regardless of faith or background. Vegetarian food is often served to ensure that all people, even those with dietary restrictions, can eat together as equals.
The largest langar is found at the Golden Temple. It typically feeds roughly 40,000 people a day for free. On religious holidays and weekends, the langar can feed upwards of 100,000 people a day. This incredible feat is made possible through donations and volunteers. Below you will learn about the entire process at the Golden Temple from preparation to cleaning.
- About 90% of the staff is made up of volunteers (known as sewadars) that can help out for as long as they like
- Volunteers can assist with food prep such as peeling garlic or hand rolling rotis
- Large flour grinders located under the kitchen process up to 12,000 kg of flour a day
- Large vats of lentils require 1-2 people to stir
- On busy holidays, the kitchen will use their automatic roti machine which can produce 25,000 rotis/hour
- Once the food is prepared, it is placed into smaller containers so volunteers can carry around the dining hall and serve
- Everyone, regardless of faith and background is allowed in the dining hall
- Women, men and children all sit together
- Before entering you must remove your shoes and wear a head covering
- A traditional meal of lentils, rice, vegetables and roti is served
- Everyone must sit on the floor as equals, so all people are on the same level and nobody is ‘above’ anyone else
- There are two halls that can serve about 5,000 diners at a time
- After dining, plates and utensils are handed to another set of volunteers
- Each dish is washed five separate times in large communal areas
- Plates are then stacked for the next round of diners
Sikh Langar / Free Kitchen
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.” – Source: Wikipedia
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