By Prerna Bhandari
The Golden Temple is the holiest shrines of Sikhs. A temple whose foundation was laid by Muslim Sufi saint Hasrat Mian Mir. The temple symbolises brotherhood and harmony even more than religious sentiments.
One can testify this non-sectionalised philosophy of Sikhism the moment one steps into the shrine, here’s how:
Collection of shoes
Unlike temples where footwear often vanishes like it was never there, gurdwaras exhibit a different scenario. Volunteers known as ‘sewadars’ in Golden Temple are always there to collect your shoes and make space for them outside the shrine.
The community kitchen
Before paying obeisance to the holy Guru Granth Sahib or afterward, one enters into the community hall for langar. There is a series of quick movements happening outside the community hall.
On one hand, there are volunteers washing utensils, rinsing each plate at least 5 times before it is served. And on the other hand, volunteers are lined up in a row handing over one utensil after the other in succession.
Then, the visitor makes their way to one of the big halls. Along with them, there are around 50,000 more tourists who eat langar at the same time. Yes, fellows, there is place for everyone to have a comfortable meal there!
If you are on a holiday trip and are sick of eating outside food, God has granted your wish. A simple yet delicious meal of steaming hot daal, gobhi and kheer await you at the langar. Hundreds of ‘sewadars’ are busy serving hot chappatis to all the tourists.
While you can have as much as you want, make sure that you take rotis with both hands and utter ‘Sat Naam Waheguru’. Else you are bound to make the sewadars angry, especially the aged ones.
Sikhism is Progressive
Talking about progress lets discuss equality. One encounters a pleasant surprise when you sneak inside the community kitchen. For the female folk have declared their charge there.
This is overwhelming in a nation where the only place ladies are seen presiding over religious proceedings is their home.
Preparation of Food
The langar preparation at the Golden Temple is no such ordinary affair. The organisation behind this leaves everyone wonder stuck. An ordinary day’s food requirements are 100 quintal wheat flour, 25 quintal
An ordinary day’s food requirements are 100 quintal wheat flour, 25 quintal cereals, 10 quintal rice, 5000-litre milk and 5 quintal pure ghee.
Around 100 LPG cylinders get used up in a day inside the community kitchen. It is surely grander than any big fat Indian wedding. And to learn that 300 permanent volunteers manage the entire show definitely requires some research project into it!
The mouth-watering ‘karah’ parshaad
After your darshan at the holy shrine, sewadars stand on the way back to offer ‘Karah or ‘Atta ka halwa’. Overloaded with desi ghee and lots of love, don’t think of the calories and refuse it. Instead, it is guaranteed that you will ask for a second serving once you taste it.
The sewadars will be more than happy to serve you twice only if you accept it with both hands and say ‘Sat Naam Waheguru.’
Debunking Sikh Stereotypes
One experiences such bliss and hospitality at this holy shrine, that to think of Sikhs as stupid minded, hot blooded and what not seems like a misjudgement. Not generalising at all, but one question definitely strikes my head.
Which temple of hindus or any other religion for that matter feeds around 50,000 people in a day? Or which temple gives free and respectable accommodation to all those who wish to seek shelter under it ?
Because in my knowledge, entry to many hindu temples is restricted for certain ‘lower castes’. Females are usually never ‘pujaris’ and men take over the upkeep of the temple in most cases.
A similar gender and caste divide thankfully does not exist in Sikhism. They have their foundations strong when it comes to equality.
For Sikhs, the value of humanity and brotherhood is greater than the factions of society. So next time you think of stereotyping sikhs over this or that, think twice before you do!
Because these people know much more about their religion, or as it looks like than you or me do!
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