Langar Aid is a special project by the international humanitarian aid organisation called Khalsa Aid. The aim of this charity is to provide humanitarian aid in emergency situations like disaster areas and in war zones. This project focuses on fighting hunger worldwide by providing food in emergencies where it is desperately needed to save lives of victims of natural disasters, wars and civil conflicts, etc. The project teams work collaboratively with other NGOs, charity organisations, governments and charities to ensure every man, woman and child has access to nourishing food for an active and healthy life.
‘Langar’ is a term used in the Punjabi language to describe a free kitchen where food is provided to all people, regardless of background, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender or social status and without any expectation for any reward.
The concept of Langar or free kitchen was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in about 1481. It is designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people of the world regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status; to eliminate extreme poverty in the world and to bring about the birth of "caring communities". In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of Langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. "..the Light of God is in all hearts." (Guru Granth Sahib, p 282)
For the first time in history, Guruji designed an institution in which all people would sit on the floor together, as equals, to eat the same simple food. It is here that all people high or low, rich or poor, male or female, all sit in the same pangat (literally "row" or "line") to share and enjoy the food together.
The institution of Guru ka Langar has served the community in many ways. It has ensured the participation of women and children in a task of service for mankind. Women play an important role in the preparation of meals, and the children help in serving food to the pangat. Langar also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation, which has played a great part in upholding the virtue of sameness of all human beings; providing a welcome, secure and protected sanctuary.
Everyone is welcome to share the Langar; no one is turned away. The food is normally served twice a day, every day of the year. Each week a family or several families volunteer to provide and prepare the Langar. This is very generous, as there may be several hundred people to feed, and caterers are not allowed. All the preparation, the cooking and the washing-up is done by volunteers and or by voluntary helpers (Sewadars).
This charity is based on these principles of Langar.
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- Website: http://www.langaraid.org
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- Iraq/Syria border (2014 onwards )
- Nepal (2014 onwards )
- Various locations in the EU serving refugees
- Various locations in India
In the News
CHANDIGARH: Large-hearted Sikhs have taken their traditional community kitchen to one of the most dangerous places on earth today - Syria. Giving a twist to the concept of langar, a group of Punjabi NRIs has collaborated with locals to provide fresh bread to nearly 14,000 refugees daily in the strife-torn region for several months now.
Langar Aid, an extension of UK-based NGO Khalsa Aid, is located in the Pesh Harbour area, about 35km from the Kurdish city of Duhok and 10km from the Syrian border. Almost 70% of the members of Langar Aid are with Punjabi roots, besides some European volunteers as well.
Instead of the classic kitchen, Langar Aid set up a bakery because IS fighters were destroying any food coming in for the Yazidis. While Khalsa Aid provided the machinery and Joint Help for Kurdistan gave a new building to house the bakery , the local government in Duhok is providing free power.
UK-based Indy Hothi, a 27-year-old economist-cum volunteer of Indian origin said, "We set up a bakery at a refugee camp for Yazidi people to provide a self-sustaining solution. Support in the form of food for distressed people has been there for over a year now and organizations from Sweden are helping run the bakeries. Help is also pouring in from Serbia and Greece."
"Refugees often mistake us for IS because of our appearance," said Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid, but that not deterred this unique force. "I was there about two months back and it was a very overwhelming experience. It was poignant to meet a family that had fled from their homes with their 10-monthold child and they were pleasantly surprised to find aid in the middle of nowhere. Then there was an elderly lady who still wanted to return to her village she had built after years of hard work. The situation will get more challenging as winter sets in."
On the other side of Syria, on the Lebanon-Syrian border, the organization is helping refugees by running a school for 5,000 local children. "The idea is to take the langar outside the walls of the gurdwara and share food with people who need it the most," added Hothi.
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- Bhai Kanhaiya
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- Sewa and the community
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