Kitchen that feeds 100,000 daily

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In Pictures:
Free kitchen in India run at the Sikhs' holiest shrine produces 200,000 flat breads and 1.5 tons of lentil soup daily. by Showkat Shafi

Two hundred thousand Rotis - Chapattis (Indian flat bread), 1.5 tons of Daal (lentil soup) and free food served to 100,000 people every single day are what makes the free kitchen run at the Golden Temple in the western Indian city of Amritsar stand apart.

By all measures, the kitchen (called Langar in Punjabi ) is one of the largest free kitchens to be run anywhere in the world. The concept of langar was initiated centuries ago by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. Sunday, November 17, 2013 was his 545th birth anniversary.

At the Langar, no one goes hungry - and everybody gets a hot meal regardless of caste, creed and religion. All Sikh Gurudwaras (places of worship) have Langar, but the one at Golden Temple - Sikhs' holiest shrine - has little parallel.

“Anyone can eat for free here and on an average we serve food to 100,000 people. On weekends and special occasions double the numbers of people visit the langar Hall. The langar never stops and on an average 7,000 kg of wheat flour, 1,200 kg of rice, 1,300 kg of lentils, 500 kg of ghee (clarified butter) is used in preparing the meal every day,” says Harpreet Singh, manager of this huge kitchen.

“The free kitchen uses firewood, LPG gas and electronic bread makers for the cooking and we use around 100 LPG cylinders and 5,000 kilograms of firewood every day,” he adds.

The kitchen is run by 450 staff, helped by hundreds of other volunteers. Sanjay Arora, 46, from New Delhi, comes to volunteer at the langar two days every month. “This is KAR-SEVA (do-service) for me. I feel happy after doing this service. It’s is not just free food, here you forget all the differences that separates humans from each other,” he says.

Volunteers also wash the 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls used in feeding the people. The food is vegetarian and the expenses are managed through donations from all over the world. The yearly budget of the langar runs into hundreds of millions. One has to see it to believe.

In Pictures:

Free kitchen in India run at the Sikhs' holiest shrine by Showkat Shafi

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The "langar" or free kitchen at Golden Temple in the Indian city of Amritsar is perhaps the world’s largest free eatery.
The Langar or free kitchen was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak/Showkat Shafi

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Around one hundred thousand (100,000) people visit the langar every day and the number increases on weekends and special days./Showkat Shafi

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People from all over the world who have FAITH in “SIKHISM” aspire to visit Golden temple at least once in their life time./Showkat Shafi

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Everybody is welcome at the langar, no one is turned away.
It works on the principle of equality amongst people of the world regardless of their religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status./Showkat Shafi

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People sit on the floor together as equals and eat the same simple food at the eating hall of the Golden Temple langar./Showkat Shafi

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Langar teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation./Showkat Shafi

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People from any community and faith can serve as volunteers./Showkat Shafi

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The lines of status, caste and class vanish at the langar. Everybody, rich or poor, is treated as equals./Showkat Shafi

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The meal served is hot but simple: comprising roti (flat Indian bread), lentil soup and sweat rice./Showkat Shafi

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The utensils are washed in three rounds to ensure that the plates are perfectly clean to be again used./Showkat Shafi

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Running the kitchen also means washing and cleaning thousands of plates, bowls and spoons/Showkat Shafi

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Some 450 staff and hundreds of volunteers help to run the kitchen./Showkat Shafi

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Five thousand kilograms of fire wood is used every day for preparing the meals at this langar, that runs 24/7/365./Showkat Shafi

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A Sikh volunteer prepares the dal (lentil soup) that will be served for the meals at the langar./Showkat Shafi

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Around 200,000 Rotis are prepared every day at the langar which is served to the people./Showkat Shafi

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Wheat flour being put in a contraption that acts like a dough maker. The dough will be used for making Rotis (Indian flat bread)./Showkat Shafi

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Rotis (Indian flatbread) are cooked over electric machine ./Showkat Shafi

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Women play an important role in the preparation of meals. Volunteers make stacks of Rotis that will be served at the free kitchen./Showkat Shafi

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