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Religious Studies

Sikhism: prejudice and discrimination

The langar and equality

At the centre of Sikh teaching about equality is the langar (kitchen).

Every gurdwara [Gurdwara: Sikh place of worship. Literally, the 'doorway to the Guru'. ] has a langar where all people are welcome to a free meal regardless of their sex, colour or religion. There are no rituals observed in the langar and everyone eats together. All the food is vegetarian so that no religious group is offended.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji [Guru Nanak: The first Guru and founder of the Sikh faith (1469 - 1539). ] established the langar because he rejected the Hindu caste system where people of different castes do not eat together. Guru Nanak Dev Ji wanted to stress the idea that everyone is equal. Everyone shares the tasks of preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning. This shows sewa - selfless service to the others in the sadhsangat (community), the gurdwara [Gurdwara: Sikh place of worship. Literally, the 'doorway to the Guru'. ], and the world outside.

The teaching of the langar was continued by Guru Amar Das Ji (the third Guru) who made a rule that no one, however important, could see him until they had first eaten in the langar.

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