Two hundred thousand Rotis - Chapattis (Indian flat bread)1.5 tons of Daal (lentil soup) and free food served to 100000 people every single day are what makes the free kitchen run at the Golden Temple in the western Indian city of Amritsar stand apart.
By all measuresthe kitchen (called Langar in Punjabi ) is one of the largest free kitchens to be run anywhere in the world. The concept of langar was initiated centuries ago by Guru Nanakthe founder of Sikh religion. SundayNovember 172013 was his 545th birth anniversary.
At the Langarno one goes hungry - and everybody gets a hot meal regardless of castecreed and religion. All Sikh Gurudwaras (places of worship) have Langarbut the one at Golden Temple - Sikhs' holiest shrine - has little parallel.
“Anyone can eat for free here and on an average we serve food to 100000 people. On weekends and special occasions double the numbers of people visit the langar Hall. The langar never stops and on an average 7000 kg of wheat flour1200 kg of rice1300 kg of lentils500 kg of ghee (clarified butter) is used in preparing the meal every day” says Harpreet Singhmanager of this huge kitchen.
“The free kitchen uses firewoodLPG gas and electronic bread makers for the cooking and we use around 100 LPG cylinders and 5000 kilograms of firewood every day” he adds.
The kitchen is run by 450 staffhelped by hundreds of other volunteers. Sanjay Arora46from New Delhicomes to volunteer at the langar two days every month. “This is KAR-SEVA (do-service) for me. I feel happy after doing this service. It’s is not just free foodhere you forget all the differences that separates humans from each other” he says.
Volunteers also wash the 300000 platesspoons and bowls used in feeding the people. The food is vegetarian and the expenses are managed through donations from all over the world. The yearly budget of the langar runs into hundreds of millions. One has to see it to believe.
Women play an important role in the preparation of meals. Volunteers make stacks of Rotis that will be served at the free kitchen.