Langar (Punjabi: ਲੰਗਰ) (kitchen),[1] is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. The free meal is always vegetarian.[2] People sit on the floor and eat together, and the kitchen is maintained and serviced by Sikh community volunteers.[3]
In Sikhism, the practice of the langar, or free kitchen, is believed to have been started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality among all people, regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. The second Guru of Sikhism, Guru Angad, is remembered in Sikh tradition for systematizing the institution of langar in all Sikh temple premises, where visitors from near and far could get a free simple meal in a communal seating.[17][18] He also set rules and training method for volunteers (sevadars) who operated the kitchen, placing emphasis on treating it as a place of rest and refuge, and being always polite and hospitable to all visitors.[17]
It was the third Guru, Amar Das, who established langar as a prominent institution, and required people to dine together irrespective of their caste and class.[19] He encouraged the practice of langar, and made all those who visited him attend langar before they could speak to him.[2
Langars are held in gurdwaras all over the world, some of which attract homeless population according to news reports. The Sikh volunteers feed them without any discrimination, along with the other devotees who gather.[21][22][23] Major Indian and overseas gurdwaras operate langars where local communities, sometimes consisting of hundreds or thousands of visitors, join together for a simple vegetarian meal.[