The Guru Ram Das langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple is synonymous with the Sikh tradition.
Langar symbolises equality as people from all walks of life, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, sit together on the floor and partake food.
Countless devotees daily render their services with zeal to run the langar at all times. They perform sewa (free service) such as cleaning utensils, scrubbing the floors, chopping onions, shelling peas and peeling garlic.
More than 400 sewadars (servicemen) are daily deployed on the temple premises.
During festivals such as Diwali and Baisakhi, the figures of devotees swell and reach up to 2 lakh. In spite of this, langar is served round the clock.
When the HT team visited the community kitchen, it was packed to the hilt with people from different cultures.
An Australian national, Garry Anderson, who was visiting the Golden Temple along with his family, said, “My family and I are elated and feel blessed to be here. My relatives had visited the Golden Temple and community kitchen a few months ago. They asked us to come here during our trip to India.”
He added, “My wife is a food and beverage professional at a Melbourne-based five star hotel. She is surprised to see the huge rush of devotees and efficient management of the kitchen. The food quality is great.”
Harpreet Singh, community kitchen manager, said, “The langar brings people from all religions, communities and even nationalities on a single platform where they all sit together on the floor and partake food.”
Singh said, “The cleaning process is both mechanical and manual and is carried out regularly.”
“Golden Temple and its langar have attained fame across the world. Anyone who visits here once makes it a point to visit again,” said US-based Sarbinder Kaur, a teacher.
The langar includes dal (pulses), vegetable dish, rice, chapatti and a traditional sweet dish such as Kheer (rice pudding), seviyan or parshad. During festive occasions, the menu offers great variety. A chapatti-making machine was installed here in 2002. Two more machines have been added.
The markets are packed with shoppers carrying out last-minute purchases for Diwali. A large number of devotees from faraway places are here to be part of the festivity at Golden Temple.
The fireworks display will be held 7pm onwards. The event will be held for not more than 12 minutes to avoid causing air pollution. Releasing lanterns with lights will be another surprise for devotees. The temple has been specially illuminated for the occasion.
Guest houses and newly-opened five-star hotels are fully booked due to the huge rush of pilgrims. Trains, buses and flights have also registered full booking.