Langar Class

People voluntarily switch from being served to serving, eliding distinctions of class, caste, gender, age, and even fait...

The Times of India as also the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) of the University of Michigan carried articles on the "Langar Class" as TOI puts it as a program in examining the Langar of Harmandar Sahib (Harmandir Sahib Project) as a 'model of holistic and coherent action'.

Over the next few weeks we will present before the SikhNet Sangat the various aspects of the Global Engagement program, the cultural and personal experiences and views of the participants often forgetting 'distinctions of class, caste, gender, age, and even faiths'.


Jun 9, 2014: Starting June 8, 13 students from the University of Michigan (UoM) are spending a month in Amritsar to learn about sustainable nourishment through the langar at the Golden Temple.

Students from different cultural and academic backgrounds will prepare the food in the kitchen that feeds 60,000 mouths a day.

The langar is a historically sustained nutrition programme that is important for the study of sustainable living, especially because it is not government sanctioned but instead based on a foundation of volunteerism.

The University of Michigan wants to make India a major partner, given its growing importance on the world stage and has begun with the study of community nourishment at the Golden Temple. According to Jasprit Singh, professor, College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UoM, the students wish to study and participate in langar as an "engineering challenge" and explore the motives of the volunteers, 75% of whom are not Sikh.

The students had been preparing since January to ensure a smooth transition into Indian culture without disturbing it. Once they return, they are going to replicate the langar model to prepare a community meal for 10,000 people to be showcased at the university.

"Whereas in the past the West tended to teach other cultures how to live, now the focus is shifting and cultures are learning from each other. There is a growing acceptance to a two-way flow of information between developed and developing countries. Especially in the case of sustainability, developed countries can learn lessons from developing ones," says Singh.

Jessica (22K)
Student: Jessica Eller
2014 GIEU Amritsar, India
Sustainable Nourishment: The Golden Temple
Jessica was interviewed by The Times of India on June 16, 2014, here are excerpts from her interview!

"Coming here is an all-in-one package as it has not only allowed me to study this diversity but also to explore my interests in health, nutrition, access to education and related inequalities. I am here to learn the concept of sustainable nourishment by working in the community kitchen or langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We take part in activities like chopping vegetables, preparing chapatis and doing the dishes in small groups. Volunteers are quiet and meditative while working — they bond through non-verbal communication. I can feel the love and serenity in the air here and am amazed at how everyday physical tasks can be so harmonious and spiritual.

There is a lot here that differs from my expectations. Initially, I was under the impression that women in India kept their entire body covered. I am relieved to know that this is not the case and I can freely wear short sleeves. Another aspect that surprised me was the loud music played in the prayer halls. At first, I wondered how people manage to think and pray. I have realised that the music contributes to the peaceful atmosphere and positive interaction, and helps to spread the eternal message of God.

The Sikh community emphasises that service to others is service to self and God, and thus, they manage the mammoth task of feeding thousands of mouths a day. I want to apply the lessons I have learnt here back home and demonstrate the importance of transcending differences, finding commonalities and uniting for a cause."


The article as published by University of Michigan

Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS)
University of Michigan

Prof. Jasprit Singh has been updating us on his GIEU cohort's experiences in Amritsar, India.


gieu-india-kitchen-small (68K)

Every single day, over 40,000 people enjoy a free, delicious, and nutritious vegetarian meal in Harmandar Sahib ('The Golden Temple'), Amritsar, a six-hour train ride from Delhi. People voluntarily switch from being served to serving, eliding distinctions of class, caste, gender, age, and even faiths - although the meal takes place in a temple, participants are of many and varied belief systems and most of the volunteers are not Sikh. Sitting together on a jute runner on the floor, people share a common meal whose roots extend more than 400 years.

This GIEU program is examining the Langar of Harmandar Sahib as a model of holistic and coherent action. Students trace food from farm to mouth in order to tackle issues of food sustainability as well as serve in the community kitchen in order to learn how to cook at such a massive scale. Prof. Singh is especially focused on asking how the vocabulary and practices that may be culturally rooted in the land (the Punjab in India), the religion (the Sikh faith), and the culture (of India, where the concept of karma and its understanding flows through each person, even if the interpretations of karma may vary) be transformed for other lands and people and cultures.

gieu-india-templeSteps (86K)

The Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) was founded in July 2009 to provide a wide variety of global engagement and learning opportunities to the University of Michigan community. CGIS programming serves students with diverse academic interests at international and domestic sites on every inhabited continent.


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