THE GURU'S LANGAR (FREE KITCHEN)
The tradition of Lungar expresses the ideals of equality, sharing, and the oneness of all humankind.
An essential part of any Gurdwara is the Lungar, or free kitchen. Here the food is cooked by sevadars and is served without discrimination to all. After the Sadh Sangat has participated in any ceremony, they are served the Guru’s Lungar.
The tradition of Lungar expresses the ideals of equality, sharing, and the oneness of all humankind. It was inspired by Guru Nanak’s act of serving food to wandering holy men when given money by his father to strike a good bargain. The practice of serving food to all was started with Guru Nanak’s Sikhs at Kartarpur.
Guru Angad Dev Ji continued the Lungar at Khadoor Sahib and it was organized by his wife, Mata Khivi, the wife of Guru Angad Dev Ji.
At Goindwal, during the time of Guru Amar Das Ji a rule was instituted that anyone who wanted to have a meeting with the Guru (receive his Darshan) would have to eat food from the Lungar. Even when the Emperor of India came to see Guru Amar Das, he was made to sit in pungat (where Lungar is served) before meeting the Guru. From that time forward, at Goindwal, Lungar is served 24 hours a day.
The Guru’s Lungar is always vegetarian, and traditionally is made up of simple, nourishing food.
Strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness are important when preparing the Lungar (i.e., washed hands, never tasting it while cooking). Individuals with communicable diseases should not participate in the preparation of lungar. It is also suggested that Gurbani be recited during the preparation.
When the Lungar is ready, a small portion of each of the dishes is placed in a steel plate or bowls and placed in front of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The Ardas includes the blessing of the Lungar, and a kirpan is passed through each item of food, after the Guruprashad has been blessed. The blessing of the Lungar with Ardas can be done anywhere, in case the Lungar needs to be served before the completion of the Gurdwara ceremony. The Lungar should not be eaten until the Ardas has been recited over it. After the Ardas is completed, each item of food is returned to its original pot and the blessings are passed to the entire Lungar.
When serving the Lungar, the servers must observe strict rules of cleanliness and hygiene. Servers should not touch the serving utensils to the plates of those they serve. When serving foods by hand, such as chapatis or fruit, the servers’ hands should not touch the hand or plate of those they are serving. Those serving should wait until all others have been completely served before they sit down to eat themselves.