Narinder Kaur writes about how serving people food is a high form of love and recognizing the Divine in others. She also notes how taking langar beyond Gurdwara is a way to honor Mata Khivi Ji and the Gurus.
By Narinder Kaur
“Can I? Can I Really?” asked a man in disbelief, when asked if he would like a second helping. He was being served lunch by Sikh youth and adults at a homeless shelter.
A young woman had tears in her eyes when she saw Indian food being served at the shelter by Sikh youth. She loved Indian food, and used to spend at least $10 on it every week before she lost her job two years ago. She was having it for the first time since then.
“Thank You! Thank You!” said a Professor who had lost his wife and his job. The bank had foreclosed on his house, and that’s how he had come to the shelter.
There are many experiences like these, which bring tears to my eyes. How can one not be awed at the concept of langar that our Gurus had started! What a concept, to share our blessings with others, and treat all humanity as equal, regardless of one’s color, race, or gender! How blessed and fortunate we are to be born as Sikhs!
Langar is how the Sikh youth have been taking Sikhi beyond Gurdwaras, taking Sikhi beyond Sikhs. No doubt, langar is an integral part of our Gurdwaras, but when offered a second helping at Gurdwara, has anyone ever asked, “Can I really?’
When turbaned youth and adults cook food at shelters and soup kitchens, serve it, and eat the same food themselves, we do not need to tell others who Sikhs are. They themselves ask about us. As always, actions speak louder than words. That is how our Gurus lived their lives. They did not just preach others. They actually lived their lives by the same principles that they taught us.
A bhai sahib once told me that on the Memorial Day parade, which passes in front of the Gurdwara, he sets up a water and soft drink stand outside the Gurdwara. He also puts up a sign welcoming people to use the restrooms. What a great way to let the local community know who we are!
Let us take Guru’s langar outside the Gurdwaras. Try it out once. Make it a Kaur afternoon with your friends and family. It is a humbling experience and teaches us a lot to be thankful for.
Let us make Mata Khivi ji proud of us.
Here are a few Sikh organizations that serve those experiencing food insecurity. Know of others? let us know!