No-one goes hungry in Amritsar

We also visited, both at night and the following day, the area of the temple called Guru Ka Langar which is basically a voluntary kitchen where they feed all the pilgrims and other people that come to visit the temple for free. Jane had heard about this place from Trip Advisor before we came and thought it might be a good place to eat whereas I had my reservations.
It’s an incredible place and the scale of the operation is enormous. We again felt privileged to be able to visit behind the scenes here both in the kitchens and then in the food hall where the folk get to eat. I asked our guide if it was only because we were with him that we got to wander about but he matter of factly said ‘No, anyone can come here -there are no restrictions.’
We started off in the area where they serve thousands of bowls of chai (tea) and thought this was very busy but then we went into the actual food hall and there were hundreds of people sitting on the floor waiting to be served their lunch on a silver plate. The estimates for how many people they can feed here on any one day vary between 10,000 and 100,000 but whatever it was – it was definitely a lot of people! We could have eaten here but to be honest it felt awkward as there were some incredibly poor people eating here and it didn’t feel right. However, then our guide told us that the idea here was of equality and that by all eating on the floor together it showed that there was no difference between the rich and poor. So that felt awkward too but no-one else seemed to mind.
After this we also had a little tour behind the scenes both at night and in the day of the kitchens. We saw where the large group of volunteers were preparing the huge piles of garlic and we saw the giggling man who tended the fires underneath the vast bowls of boiling broth. We also saw the groups of ladies hand rolling the chapatis and Joyce and Enid felt compelled to volunteer here which they did enthusiastically. Then we saw the huge German chapati making machine which could churn them out much faster but they probably don’t taste as good.
Finally we saw the area where they do the washing up. Again this is manned by volunteers who could be a local teacher who had popped in during a free period to give some time or a guy from Canada who has come all this way to do his service for a week. The atmosphere here was extremely organised but with a sense of sociable fun. I think we have found a place for Enid now that she is due to go part time and is looking to do some voluntary work.
In the end I was left asking the question here of ‘ Why couldn’t this model of voluntary giving on such a grand scale work elsewhere?







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