Sultan Ahmed Shah was a pious and generous ruler who founded Ahmedabad in 1411 as the capital city of Gujarat. He introduced the idea of a langar or community kitchen as he decreed that no on in his city should ever go to sleep hungry.
The man in the pictures is Yasinbhai Sheikh serving a free dinner nightly next to the Friday Mosque. The men in his family have done this each night for 600 years. People from all walks of life and religions visit the langar in Manek Chowk to taste the khichdi (porridge) which is said to have healing powers. Today, there is a line item in the budget of Ahmedabad to fund the langar just as mandated by the Sultan.
“The sultan gave orders to open a community kitchen wherein only vegetarian food was prepared and served free to the poor. He had made arrangements to keep a separate fund for the food at the langarkhana. To date, the langarkhana has never turned down any poor who visits its door. No matter what the situation, it is always open,” said Yasinbhai.
The khichdi made here is known in the community to have healing powers. One son came daily to get some for his mother who was quite ill. He was very happy to see marked improvement in her condition after eating the porridge for a week. An older beggar women said that there are many places in the city where food is served for the poor, but thinks nothing compares to the khichdi served by Yasinbhai because it is both nutritious and non-spicy.
Here is a short You Tube video showing the poor of Ahmedabad lining up for the nightly serving.
Much of the criticism of India in the world is the numbers of poor people who are there. There are 1.2 billion people living in this country with the population equal to the population of North America, Central America, and South America together! OK, none of those countries can claim no poverty, quite the contrary in some of those places. Yes, maybe there is a need to have family planning, but that is another topic. India is trying to feel the poor. The Jain temple near our hostel served free meals in the afternoons to all who come. This langar is in operation daily as well as others sponsored by temples, mosques and the government. Indians do care for the least among them. Remember my post on the Sihks at the Golden Temple where the poor can bathe, sleep and eat 24 hours a day? They feel up to 100,000 people purely with volunteers and donations.
Ahmedabad is still blessed and blessing others because of the generous, just spirit of her founder Sultan Ahmed Shah and his legacy that lives on after 600 years.
Namaste. . . . . T I I I