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"L" is for Langar
It is an orange Thursday, in this day of fall. It is peak hour and most of the people in Santiago are concerned about going home, getting some food and spending some time with their loved ones. But not all, there is always a group of people that for different reasons are left out, without jobs, family, house and the most important of all, love. And there are those who inside their heart take their time to reach out.
Almost 4 years ago (now May 25th is the 4th year), 2 young men, students of Yogi Bhajan and his teaching had the same thought.
“Lets get together and make some food for the homeless people that live in the central market of Santiago – “La Vega””. This is how Langar Chile was born. No thoughts about how, no fear about how much, just the clear intention of doing it, and to not let anything stop it.
They started with some hot tea and cheese sandwiches. And week-by-week, these two young men found a way into these peoples' hearts. The gangsters stopped being aggressive. The old ladies started telling their stories, and the old men started smiling.
Four years later, they still have the same simplicity – “this is about getting together, cooking food and serving it. It's no more complicated than that” they tell me, while, cooking in the kitchen of the “Chilean Academy of Yoga” (Hatha Yoga)– while the Academy's Director helps them out in between running the place and his yoga classes. “I’ve wanted to support social service in the school, and I decided that supporting something that was already happening was a good way to start. I also like that this is people from the yoga community doing it” he tells me while we sip tea in his kitchen.
“It could sound funny, but the food is just an excuse to talk to these people, every time I go there I feel that they give us so much. After all this time, they’ve opened up, they tell their stories, and they are all amazing”, comments Sinmrit Singh, Kundalini Yoga teacher since 2001, chef, therapist and one of the founders of the program.
“The greatest challenge is not the money. We’ve always been covered and I trust we shall always be, but to keep the right spirit. This is not a duty, it is something we do from the heart”. “Another challenge is to find people who can help us and who can commit to it. The first day we came, the whole community showed up, but once winter hits, and it's dark and rainy, it is just the two of us again - making food and serving it”, shares Guru Darshan Singh, director of Agni Yoga studio, Kundalini yoga teacher since 2005, therapist, and the other founder of Langar Chile.
“But we keep going, because we feel people are counting on us, and they give us so much. I am the one who is blessed in serving them, not the other way around. And it is real. It is a feeling I get every time we go, and it is not because I feel great about myself because I am doing this, it is because I can share with them. They are not better or worse. I am not here to save them, but simply to feed them and spend some time with them.”
Goals for the Future:
- Create a Non-profit Organization from Langar Chile.
- Have a place where we can offer not only food, but also health and education, so the effort of getting these people out of the streets and away from using alcohol is more permanent.
Tips for starting your own Langar:
- Start from the practical aspects first, not the other way around. Be real, not just theory or abstract.
- Commit to it, commit to it, and commit to it!
- If you are serving in the streets, find out about permits, or other requirements you might need.
- Be simple, it is about cooking food and serving it.
- If people reject you, keep in mind you are the one knocking on their door. It is their “home”, and you should respect that.
- Be real with the people. An attitude of “I am here to help you” is deeply annoying.
- Come back to the spirit of service, not duty. Chant "Ardas Bhaee Amar Das Guru" till you go back to the heart - for days if necessary.
- Make one dish to avoid issues of somebody getting more of one dish than another and possible fights for it. Also, it's cheaper and easier to serve.
- If you are serving in a dangerous place, keep security in mind.
- Enjoy it, enjoy it, and enjoy it.
Who is committed to Langar Chile?
Sinmrit Singh and Guru Darshan Singh are the founders of Langar Chile. Sinmrit Singh is a Kundalini Yoga teacher since 2001, a therapist, and a chef. He had the blessing to be the personal cook for Yogi Bhajan the summer of 2001. Guru Darshan is a Kundalini Yoga teacher since 2005, a therapist, and the director of Agni Yoga Studio.
Rene Espinoza: Director of the Hatha Chilean academy of Yoga, Hatha Yoga instructor Supports them for over a year, and now he offered the kitchen of his yoga studio. “12 years ago, when I was becoming a yoga instructor, service was part of it, but I couldn’t put it together till my path got me across these Kundalini guys. I joined in, I liked it that is simple, and people from the yoga community are doing it”.
Kundalini Yoga teacher level 1 since 2005
“I like to do service, I was disconnected from the community and I thought this was a good way to share with the others. I like it that this effort has no politics around, and it is not about the show off. It is quiet, and honest.”
Kundalini Yoga teacher level 1 since 2006, architect and photographer. “I’ve never done anything like this, so when I heard of it, something inside of me told me I needed to be part of it. I help with the photos, and serving the food. It feels good, and I feel we need to help others that are not so lucky as we are”.
Surpreet Kaur: Currently doing teacher training level 1, Purna Yoga teacher, and chef “I was a Kundalini Yoga student at Narayan Yoga Center. Last year, Gurubachan Singh came to Chile as part of his tour of miracles. As part of that, Langar Chile did a presentation of what they have been doing. I got interested right away, and now I am in doing one of the cooking slots.”
Raimundo Hernández: Hatha Yoga Instructor since 2005. “I’ve heard of it though Guru Darshan. I got interested because it was done on the streets, not on a place for homeless people. And also these guys are going to the most dangerous place, and at night. That’s were the real need is.”
Shiv Charan Kaur: Student of Kundalini Yoga since 2002, Hatha Yoga instructor since 2005, and physical therapist since 2006. “I´ve heard it from Guru Darshan. I like to go because it is about serving, about giving to the people, it is simple, and straightforward. And even that sometimes I am tired, or don’t want to go, I push, it is always nice to go and do it.”
Siri Simran Kaur: Kundalini Yoga student since 2002, psychologist. “Sometime in 2005, somebody told me about this, and I got interested right away. I am a psychologist, social service is part of what I studied psychology, and it gets me out of the office, the bubble I live day to day. Commitment works for me, so this is perfect.
Guru Atma Kaur:
Kundalini Yoga teacher since 1998, therapist and student of Psychology. “I liked this effort because it feels real, these guys are going to a very dangerous place, fearless and devotional, it really touched my heart. I got really inspired by them, that’s why I started helping them and also wrote this article, so others can get inspired as well”.
If you would like to support Langar Chile, please contact Guru Darshan at email@example.com love from southamerica to you guys!
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