All About Langar and the Guru's Free Kitchen

All About Sikhsim and Sacred Food Service

Langar, or sacred food service from the Guru's free vegetarian kitchen, is an important concept in Sikhism which began when Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak fed hungry holy men. Second Guru Angad Dev's wife, Mata Khivi, became instrumental in the development of langar serving alongside the first five gurus in Gur ka Langar, the Guru's free kitchen. Third Guru Amar Das developed the concept of ​pangat sangat, meaning everyone regardless of rank sits and eats together as equals in the congregation. Langar provision, preparation, service and cleanup is voluntary and is today an integral part of every gurdwara and Sikh worship service.

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The Sikh Dining Tradition of Langar

Sikh Sangat Sitting for Gur ka Langar
Sikh Sangat Sitting for Gur ka Langar. Photo © [Vikram Singh]

Sikhism's history and tradition of langar began when Guru Nanak spent money meant for trade goods to feed hungry Sadhus declaring it a most profitable transaction. Mata Khivi took an active role in providing and serving langar. Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism's holy scripture, praises her kheer (rice pudding) as having the divine flavor of immortal ambrosia. Third Guru Amar Das decreed all who came to see him should first eat from his free kitchen, a concept known as pangat sangat. He insisted that an Emperor sit with commoners to eat as equals to nurture humility.

Worshipers Making Roti for Langar
Worshipers Making Roti for Langar. Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Langar is a traditional concept which includes cooking, serving, and eating vegetarian meals together in a communal kitchen and dining hall. The langar experience provides fellowship for sangat (the congregation), friends and families. Langar seva or altruistic selfless service is one of three principles on which Sikhism is founded. Voluntary contributions supply all equipment, provisions, and food necessary for langar. Every Sikh gurdwara has a langar facility for feeding and nourishing both body and soul.

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Yuba City Sikh Parade Langar Tents
Yuba City Sikh Parade Langar Tents. Photo © Khalsa Panth

Langar, is served with each and every Sikh occasion and event, whether a worship service, ceremony, celebration or festivity. Langar is available as part of any commemorative gurpurab occasion from the gurdwara hosting the festivity. Free vegetarian food and nonalcoholic beverages are also prepared and handed out along Sikh parade routes to all who attend including spectators.

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Langar Seva International Aid and Disaster Relief Langar

Jericho Sikh Aid team distributing langar packages.
Jericho Sikh Aid team distributing langar packages. Photo © [Courtesy United Sikhs]

United Sikhs ​is just one of the many international Sikh Aid teams which have been present at major disasters to provide langar to victims of catastrophe. Relief services provide free food, survival kits, temporary shelter, and medical supplies.

Vegetable Pakora
Vegetable Pakora. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Experience Gur ka Langar with the divine taste of delicious Sikhism sacred food and vegetarian recipes from the Guru's free kitchen prepared with prayer and meditation in the spirit of selfless service. Langar nurtures and nourishes body and soul, while starving ego. Bibek guidelines apply to preparation service and eating langar.

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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About Langar and the Guru's Free Kitchen." ThoughtCo, Jan. 9, 2018, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2018, January 9). All About Langar and the Guru's Free Kitchen. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About Langar and the Guru's Free Kitchen." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2018).