Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

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Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Jaybee » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:51 pm

Hello all,

In the spirit of contributing information (instead of coming here to just to take it), as well as the common courtesy of introducing myself, I should perhaps start by stating my own religion, which is Christianity.

I was recently most impressed by the practice of langar, the giving of free food regardless of who the consumer is. (This all came to my attention through a fascinating series of random interactions with Sikhs, the details of which I am happy to expand upon if asked.) The service provided by the Golden Temple is quite staggering in it's scale, I am told that 4,000 rotis per hour are sometimes made, and the sheer mass of this effort puts to shame, frankly, the declining efforts of the Church to help needy people. I feel that good people of any faith should take a look around, and see what good people of other faiths are doing, and learn from it.

Now we come to my question, and it's about pride; I know the principle of langar is that food is a great equaliser (needed by rich/poor/black/white etc) I would imagine that although your religion allows you to take pride in having done your duty of service by contributing time/effort/money etc to this undertaking. However, am I correct in my theory that your faith discourages you from feeling pride when you hand over the food, or accepting the gratitude of the consumer?

Example; I am walking past a stall where langar is being served, and notice the lovely smell, as well as the sign, "Free food". Though they seem ready to finish, they make me a plate, I take a few bites, find it delicious, and as thank one of the server volunteers profusely for his efforts. His imminent workload aside, would he consider it wrong to further engage me on this topic, perhaps out of concern that it would lead to feelings of superiority that I had taken his food, or to give me any more than a cursory, "You're welcome" by way of reply? Or would he be free (again, workload not withstanding) to chat for a few minutes as he prepped his own plate?

I very much look forward to your answers, especially if you have been that volunteer and been approached by a visitor, and any further opinions you wish to give would be very welcome too. Also, if you have any questions of ME, I would be happy to answer.


Take care,



Jaybee.
One God.
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Nihal Singh Kanakpuria » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:47 am

Hello Jaybee,

There is difference in pride and being content, or contentment. There is definitely a feeling of contentment when one serves langar. I have personally very rarely served and have contributed probably only once/twice directly towards langar(though i have had langar thousands of times). I can say i had a feeling of contentment, kind of satisfaction, but then i was giving back only a fraction of what i have taken.

As far as taking gratitude is concerned, there are people who thank the sevadar when they serve rotis,i do as well, but i don't really understand how one can accept gratitude, i don't think can pinpoint that emotion, haven't done anything that great

As far as the sevadar(volunteer) chatting, it depends on the personality of the individual, some are chatty/friendly types so may engage you, though that doesn't generally happen, Although if you want you can definitely engage the volunteer,
try and pick someone who you think may know English, would be easier to converse.


-Nihal
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Jaybee » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:32 pm

Hi Nihal, thank you for your detailed reply. I hope you can clarify a part of your post for me:

Nihal Singh Kanakpuria wrote:Hello Jaybee,

As far as taking gratitude is concerned, there are people who thank the sevadar when they serve rotis,i do as well, but i don't really understand how one can accept gratitude, i don't think can pinpoint that emotion, haven't done anything that great
-Nihal


Did you mean this exactly as you wrote it? If so, I would be interested as to why you cannot accept gratitude for giving Langar, specifically, if it is one of the rules of your faith, and if so, which one.

By the way, I have only once experienced Langar - about 6 years ago when my cousin married a Sikh guy. The most difficult thing for me was trying (and failing) to keep my legs crossed throughout the whole ceremony, they were/are not used to that position and kept cramping up!!
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby singhbj » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:05 pm

Welcome Jaybee,

I will share some info. from my little understanding of Gurbani (Guru's teachings).

ਜਿਨਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ (SGGS jeeo - Ang 2)
Those who serve are honored.


It is Divine law and nobody can change that !

Frankly the person who serves is not concerned whether anyone thanks him or not.

Focus remains on the service at hand.

In Big Gurdwara's or occasions there are countless people who are served so frankly there isn't enough time to scratch one's head, leave aside having a chat.

Person is tired so it's better to let him do his work.

On the other hand outside India, serving langar on streets is not only about free food but creating awareness about Sikhs & Sikhism. That Sikhs are friendly, peace loving, compassionate and sharing.

So you can very well approach them but it's advisable to make a quick judgement whether he is someone whose capable of answering your queries or chatting. Every person has a unique nature !

All the best.
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Jaybee » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:44 pm

singhbj wrote:Welcome Jaybee,

I will share some info. from my little understanding of Gurbani (Guru's teachings).

ਜਿਨਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਤਿਨਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ (SGGS jeeo - Ang 2)
Those who serve are honored.


It is Divine law and nobody can change that !

Frankly the person who serves is not concerned whether anyone thanks him or not.


I see.

On the other hand outside India, serving langar on streets is not only about free food but creating awareness about Sikhs & Sikhism. That Sikhs are friendly, peace loving, compassionate and sharing.

So you can very well approach them but it's advisable to make a quick judgement whether he is someone whose capable of answering your queries or chatting. Every person has a unique nature !


As you say, creating awareness. But you claim they are trained to do so by giving food, not knowledge.

Are you certain about this?
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Nihal Singh Kanakpuria » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:34 am

Jaybee wrote:Hi Nihal, thank you for your detailed reply. I hope you can clarify a part of your post for me:

Nihal Singh Kanakpuria wrote:Hello Jaybee,

As far as taking gratitude is concerned, there are people who thank the sevadar when they serve rotis,i do as well, but i don't really understand how one can accept gratitude, i don't think can pinpoint that emotion, haven't done anything that great
-Nihal


Did you mean this exactly as you wrote it? If so, I would be interested as to why you cannot accept gratitude for giving Langar, specifically, if it is one of the rules of your faith, and if so, which one.

By the way, I have only once experienced Langar - about 6 years ago when my cousin married a Sikh guy. The most difficult thing for me was trying (and failing) to keep my legs crossed throughout the whole ceremony, they were/are not used to that position and kept cramping up!!



Verbally one can always say "your welcome" but not for Guru Ka langar, accepting gratitude for langar is like thinking yourself to be responsible for it , and it would imply there is no selflessness in that service.
According to Sikhism beliefs go its all Gods Hukam, command/will and its known as "Guru" Ka Langar, not my or your langar, so there is a level of disconnect between self and service, because of which i dont understand how one can accept gratitude.

Sitting crossed legged is not that easy for lot of people especially as one gets older, Most Gurudwara outside of India now have tables and chairs in the Langar Hall. In the Darbar hall, where the service happens (not the langar service), you can always sit with folded legs, possibly even the Darbar hall (corner) you may find an elevated place for people who can't sit with crossed/folded legs

-Nihal
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby singhbj » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:22 am

Jaybee creating awareness in regards to Hate crimes and being distinct from Muslims, not like preaching Sikhism.

Sikhs are just being friendly and have no other Agenda.

As for ''Trained'' what gave you that idea ?

Most of the people who Serve or do Seva are volunteers and very few are paid employees of Gurdwara.

The volunteers are common people with no formal training.

Hope that clears all misunderstandings.
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Re: Langar - and Sikhs own attitude to it

Postby Jaybee » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:09 am

Thank you once again Nihal. I have one or two gurdwara within easy driving distance near me and I hope to go along and take langar sometime soon.
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