Perhaps one of the largest free kitchens in the world is located in the western Indian city of Amritsar. The Golden Temple, which began construction in 1589, is the most important pilgrimage site for the Sikh religion.
The magic within the walls of the kitchen (or langar in Punjabi), occurs 24/7 by the results of 450 staff members and hundreds of volunteers. The concept of langars was initiated centuries ago by the founder of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak. At the Langar, no one goes hungry — and everybody gets a hot meal regardless of caste, creed, or religion.
The volume of service is astounding. On average, the Langar serves food to 100,000 people each day. Each and every day. These are not crumbs. They are full, hot meals, served on metal plates with dividers for lentils, savory beans, rice pudding, vegetables, and bread.
This daily meal prep equates to 15,500 lbs of wheat flour, 2,650 lbs of rice, 2,900 lbs of lentils, and 1,100 lbs of butter. Volunteers stoke the fires with 11,000 lbs of firewood throughout the day and night and wash 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls used in feeding the people.
Donations from all over the world help support the budget that creeps into the hundreds of millions.
No matter the person, the Langar is there to help. Sometimes we focus so much on the issues around us that we don’t see the many good things. Helen Keller, though blind and deaf, felt this when she said, “although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”