Wandering through the narrow crowded streets to the Golden Temple, we were bombarded with requests to buy orange head scarves.Bare feet and covered heads are mandatory in the temple for both men and women. Our guide suggested that we wear them in the streets to eliminate the begging to buy. The first stop was the shoe removal benches. Volunteers man the shoe shelves, and there is a pool of water for everyone to walk through as well as sinks and water for hand washing.
The Golden Temple is the focal point of a complex of buildings with the sacred water tank filled with water from the Ganges surrounding the temple in the center. The lay-out resembles Italian piazza plans. This is the central worship place for all Sikhs around the world, their St. Peters. I met a young Indian family who visit from Atlanta, GA at least once a year. We entered in the late morning and there were crowds of people. We went back in the evening for pictures and to enter the temple. The wait during the day is several hours, but only 20 minutes in the evening. The temple hours are 5 am through 11 pm, but the complex is open 24/7 for meditation or for a dip in the healing waters which some of our guys did. Your ears are filled with the continual beautiful chanting and hymn singing from the faithful which is continually amplified through the vast complex.
The part I was most interested in was the Langa which is the largest free eatery in the world. Each day, there are at least 1,000 faithful Sikhs who volunteer in food preparation, clean-up or at the shoe booth. It is possible to eat a simple Indian meal of rice, dal and rotini twenty-four hours a day. It is all free and you may eat as much as you want. There are continuous passers moving through the throng that is seated cross-legged on the floor. The average number of people served is 100,000 per day. All the work and ingredients are donated by the Sikhs. One of the early Sikhs felt men are unable to pray if their stomachs are empty.
As we circled the temple in the evening, we noticed homeless people under blankets on the colonnade sides of the complex. The can sleep, bathe, and eat without ever leaving the complex or return at any hour day or night. I am including a link to a video which, if you are interested you might like to watch, a YouTube video of the kitchen and my photos to give you a small taste of this incredible place. Christ told us that “The poor will always be here to serve,” and the Sikhs are a shining example of “caring for the least among us.”
“Indeed, few places in India demonstrate so clearly the country’s genius of diversity and tolerance, the twin reason that India—despite its fractures and fissures—has remained one nation.” By Lydia Polgreen
The videos are great, if you have time. Peace!
Nameste…T I I