Feeding 100,000 people every day inside the world’s largest free kitchen in Punjab’s Golden Temple

On a hot afternoon with temperatures reaching around 34 degrees Celsius, six men casually prepare meals in giant gas and wood-powered woks in the world’s largest community kitchen, feeding more than 100,000 believers. It offers.

It serves lentil soup, vegetable curry, basmati rice, and rice pudding, all prepared 24 hours a day in a community kitchen inside the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site in Amritsar, in northern India’s Punjab state.

According to the World Record Book, it is the world’s largest free kitchen and is open to everyone, 24/7, irrespective of religion, caste, creed or gender.

Officials say around 5,000 kg of wheat, 1,800 kg of lentils, 1,400 kg of rice, 5,000 liters of milk, 1,000 kg of sugar and 5,000 kg of ghee or clarified butter are consumed every day.

Approximately 1,500 kilograms of liquefied petroleum gas and 500 kilograms of firewood are required to cook the meals.

Every day, nearly 500 volunteers called “sevadars” flock to the temple’s kitchen, called “Guru Ramdas Langar,” named after the fourth of Sikhism’s 10 gurus, as devotees, tourists, and others flock to it. , preparing vegetarian meals for 100,000 people.

“Our volunteers work day and night to feed people,” said kitchen supervisor Mr. W. National.

“We do not discriminate. Anyone is welcome to come and enjoy our food. This temple has four entrances, symbolizing the acceptance of people of all religions.”

Twelve volunteers are cooking meals in the first-floor kitchen area under the supervision of a head chef in giant woks perched on elevated platforms.

In another section, huge pots of tea are brewed as men stir the hot liquid with ladles the size of boat oars.

Another group of men sit patiently in a corner, chopping vegetables and cleaning tools.

On the first floor, more than 100 men and women are patiently making chapattis (Indian flatbreads) on large rectangular stoves.

Every few minutes, tall, well-built men rush in, filling small bowls with soup, rice, tea, etc. and serving them to about 5,000 people at a time.

The air is filled with religious slogans as believers smile proudly.

equality and communal harmony

The concept of langar, which means a food center for travelers in Persian, was invented by Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, in the 15th century.

It was established as a custom by Guru Amar Das, the third guru in every gurudwara or Sikh temple, with the aim of promoting equality and communal harmony in the deeply divided Indian society.

The gurus started the trend of encouraging people of all genders, castes and religions to come together, sit together and eat the same food.

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An ancient form of Sikh martial arts, a religious procession held on the eve of the birth anniversary of Ram Dass, the fourth guru of Sikhism, was held outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar on October 21, 2021. A Nihan or Sikh warrior performs the Gatka.  (Photo) Written by Narinder Nanu/AFP)

“Nowhere else in the world will you see people from so many different backgrounds, rich and poor, sitting on the floor and having a meal together,” said Singh.

“This is the beauty of our sangat, our community.”

He further added: “Everyone here is doing seva. [service] To humanity. They work tirelessly and happily.

“They come in two shifts, morning and evening, work 12 hours and don’t hesitate to do extra chores.

“We welcome anyone who would like to lend a helping hand to volunteer their time,” he said.

“Our guru started this tradition and we are following it,” he added.

The Golden Temple has an area of ​​4,645 square meters and three floors.

Meals are served in two halls on the ground floor, covering an area the size of three basketball courts and accommodating approximately 5,000 guests sitting cross-legged on the floor.

The dining area is cleaned every 15 minutes to ensure the next seat for hungry devotees.

To keep up with the demand, the gurudwara has installed three automatic chapati-making machines on the second floor with a production capacity of 4,000 pieces per hour.

Most of the volunteers are neighbors and believers, and in addition to preparing the meals, they also wash more than 300,000 plates, spoons, glasses, bowls, and more.

Langar costs more than 300 million rupees ($3.6 million) a year to run, but Singh said it is funded through donations.

Sikhs have a religious obligation to donate one-tenth of their income to the welfare of the community.

“People donate and that’s how we run this kitchen,” Singh said.

“This is social service and our community actively participates in this noble cause. We don’t have to worry about money, Sangat [community] Take care of the food. ”

Updated: October 18, 2023, 11:56 a.m.

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