There is so much one can write about the diverse cultures and places of India. My place of inspiration lies in Amritsar, a city of the Punjab state in India. The name literally means a Pool of Nectar of immortality and is derived from Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the Golden Temple. Golden temple is an informal name for Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, a prominent Sikh Gurudwara (a place of worship).
Upon entering this holy place, you begin to feel the bliss & serenity in the ambience. In spite of being surrounded by a million souls there is a sense of sweet solitude. The Gurbani (compositions by the Gurus), chanting, the music all warm the cockles of your heart. One thing that touches me the most is the ‘Langar’ (free community meal). It mostly consists of dal (lentil soup), rice, rotis (flat bread), vegetables and at times kheer (rice pudding). This could possibly be the world’s largest free eatery. The practice of langar was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji (First Sikh Guru). It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people of the world on the ethics of ‘sharing one’s blessings.’ Langar also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation, which helps harbour, the feeling of oneness in the society. It is run by sevadars ‘volunteers doing selfless service’ and is served to everyone irrespective of their cast, creed, gender, race or the social status.
Some rules to be followed for this practice are:
The Langar must be:
Fresh and simple vegetarian meal.
The sevadars should wash hands before beginning to cook langar and never taste it while cooking.
The sevadars will normally recite Gurbani and refrain from speaking if possible.
When the Langar is ready, a small portion of each of the dishes is placed in a plate or bowls and is placed in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (The holy book).
The Langar is not eaten until Ardas (prayer) is recited.
After the Ardas is completed, each item of food is returned back to its original pot or container. This is done in a belief that the blessings of the “holy” food are thus passed to everyone through the Langar.
Being a part of this seva (service) in any way transports you to another world. Whether it is peeling the garlic, chopping the vegetables or rolling the rotis you can sense being connected to the divine. You feel blessed that in the journey of food from farm to plate, the almighty chose you to be a tiny medium to feed and nurture a hungry soul. You are a small ring of the chain through which abundance of god’s love is shared. Suddenly your life seems to have a purpose. Perhaps Mohandas K. Gandhi realized it when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” It is really inspiring when you are around people who are spending their time doing something for others. And all the hard work is done without expecting anything in return but blessings of the almighty. You are filled with hope because you know there are people doing acts of kindness all over the world. Despite the fact that they’re only impacting a small part of the society at one time, it is a crucial step in making the world a better place. As they say, “It only takes one person to make a difference”.
The result of investing time here (and not spending) is this blessed feeling of fulfillment. Your mind and heart are full of love, kindness, compassion, happiness, inspiration, hope and pride that there is no room left for regrets whatsoever.
About the Author: I am Daksha Watts from Vadodara, India. Passionate about writing, cooking, making people happy. A newbie traveller who wishes to explore the world. Was Creative Description Service Provider for the Nielsen company for the last 5 years. Now, trying to figure out my calling.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.