The Largest Free Kitchen in the World: Discover India’s Golden Temple Which Serves 100,000 Free Meals Per Day

If you find your­self hun­gry in Amrit­sar, a major city in the Indi­an state of Pun­jab, you could do worse than stop­ping into the Gold­en Tem­ple, the largest Sikh house of wor­ship in the world. It thus also oper­ates the largest com­mu­ni­ty kitchen, or lan­gar, in the world, which serves more than 100,000 free meals a day, 24 hours a day. Any­one famil­iar with Sikhism knows that, for its believ­ers, serv­ing food to the hun­gry con­sti­tutes an essen­tial duty: not just to the poor, and cer­tain­ly not just to fel­low Sikhs, but to all com­ers. Wher­ev­er in the world you may live, if there’s a Sikh tem­ple or shrine in the vicin­i­ty, there’s quite pos­si­bly a lan­gar you can vis­it as well.

Of course, no oth­er lan­gar match­es the scale of the Gold­en Tem­ple’s. As explained in the Food Insid­er video above, it oper­ates with a per­ma­nent staff of 300 to 350 employ­ees as well as a large num­ber of vol­un­teers, all of whom work in con­cert with machines around the clock to pro­duce an unend­ing stream of veg­e­tar­i­an meals, which include daal lentil stew and cha­p­ati bread. There’s always been a mar­ket for free food, but recent years have seen increas­es in demand great enough to neces­si­tate the con­struc­tion of addi­tion­al din­ing halls, and total oper­at­ing expens­es come to the equiv­a­lent of some US$4 mil­lion per year. (Every day, $5,000 goes to ghee, or Indi­an clar­i­fied but­ter, alone.)

Apart from the peo­ple of Amrit­sar and pil­grim­age-mak­ing devo­tees, the Gold­en Tem­ple lan­gar has also drawn the atten­tion of culi­nar­i­ly mind­ed trav­el­ers. Take the Cana­di­an Youtu­ber Trevor James, bet­ter known as the Food Ranger, to whose taste for extreme scale and quan­ti­ty the oper­a­tion no doubt appeals. His vis­it also affords him the oppor­tu­ni­ty, before his meal, to be out­fit­ted in tra­di­tion­al dress, up to and includ­ing a Sikh tur­ban. (The Gold­en Tem­ple requires its din­ers to wear a head-cov­er­ing of some kind.) James’ stock of trav­el-vlog­ger superla­tives is near­ly exhaust­ed by the splen­dor of the tem­ple itself before he steps into the kitchen to observe (and even lend a hand in) the cook­ing process. “Look at this,” he exclaims upon tak­ing his seat on the floor of the hall with a tray of his own. “This is an almost spir­i­tu­al meal” — an aura exud­ed whether you believe in Wahe­gu­ru, the gods of street food, or any­thing else besides.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Learn the His­to­ry of Indi­an Phi­los­o­phy in a 62 Episode Series from The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps: The Bud­dha, Bha­gavad-Gita, Non Vio­lence & More

Intro­duc­tion to Indi­an Phi­los­o­phy: A Free Online Course

Al Jazeera Trav­el Show Explores World Cities Through Their Street Food

When Al Capone Opened a Soup Kitchen Dur­ing the Great Depres­sion: Anoth­er Side of the Leg­endary Mobster’s Oper­a­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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