(1) Langar – Free Kitchen…:
We are familiar with the Sikh dinning tradition of Langar (ਲੰਗਰ) in Gurdawaras (in English, a Langar is often indicated by many terms such as “common kitchen”, “open kitchen”, “free mess”, “Sikh community meal”, “free communal kitchen of the Gurdawaaraa”, Guru- Kaa-Langar, and so on). The Langar symbolizes Sikh belief in the community spirit, sharing, inclusiveness, oneness, sameness, the duty to selflessly serving others (particularly those who are less fortunate such as poor, destitute, hungry, etc.), the equality of all people of diverse backgrounds sitting as equals in the Langer (regardless of family of birth, color of one’s skin, caste, creed, gender, religion, rich or poor, king or pauper…)…
Some Gurdwaras offer Langar 24 hours (every day of the year) to every visitor, traveller…! No one is turned away; for we all are the children of the same one Father (God).
Langar is also served in homes, etc., following recitation of the Gurbani, a religious ceremony, etc.
(2) Shabad Langar
The Langar of daily meals takes care of the need of the gross body.
But what about the need of the Soul (Aatmaa)?
The Soul’s needs are different – it needs Spiritual Food (Aatam Giaan, spiritual Knowledge…).
To take care of the need of the Soul, the Gurbani asserts Shabad Langar (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ).
This Shabad Langar provides the needed Spiritual nourishment – the Sacramental Food.
It is really strange that we don’t see too many Sikh writers, researchers, scholars, Bhais, Raagees, Kathaakaars, etc., emphasizing the need for Shabad Langar as asserted by the Gurbani.
However the gurbani neither forgets it nor it gets tired of reminding us about the Shabad Lanagr:
- ਲੰਗਰੁ ਚਲੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਹਰਿ ਤੋਟਿ ਨ ਆਵੀ ਖਟੀਐ ॥: Lanagr chalai gur sabadi hari toti n aavee khateeai: The Langar – the Kitchen of the Guru’s Shabad (Sacramental Food of the Gur-Shabad: Naam or Giaan Daa Langar) is opened (for ceaseless or non-stop distribution), and its supplies never run short. (sggs 967).
Thus, if we seek the Guidance of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), there is clear reference to this Shabad Lanagar (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ – Shabad-Giaan, Divine Knowledge, Guroo’s Wisdom, Aatm-Giaan, …).
The Gurbani indicates that the Shabad is the Sacramental Food (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੇਣ ਵਾਲਾ), which is equally important (if not more!).
Thus the Gurbani indicates that the Shabad Langar (Giaan, Spiritual Wisdom, Divine Knowledge, Naam…) must ceaselessly be distributed freely and open to all seekers (of Truth) who come to the Gurdawara without any discrimination of gender, race, nationality, status (rich, poor etc.), education, ethnicity, and so on.
- ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੇਦੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਸੋਹੈ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਿ ॥: Jaab lagu Sabad n bhedeeai kiou sohai Gurduaari (sggs 19).