Food and faith in Sikhi – BBC

Hardeep Singh Kohli (centre) explores Guru ka Langgar in a BBC programme
Hardeep Singh Kohli (centre) explores Guru ka Langgar in a BBC programme

Is sevaa (selfless service) at gurdwaras dead?

Apparently, not at the largest gurdwara at Southall, UK, according to a radio programme by the BBC World Service.

At times, Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall at Havelock Road has more sevadars (volunteers) than needed to prepare the Guru ka Langgar (the food prepared in the free kitchen).

“You never find yourself short of volunteers?” asks presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli in a short series for BBC’s Heart and Soul programme.

“Never, never,” says the sevadar interviewed. “Actually, sometimes, there are too many people…we have to say, ‘Stop, please stop.”

At Southall, according to the person interview, the door opens at 2am. Work on langgar gets on the way at 4am, An hour later, people are already partaking the langgar. The kitchen has only two full-time employees.

You can catch that halfway through the 26-minute programme.

Hardeep, a Scottish broadcaster and writer, explores the relationship between food and the major faiths and what the feasts, diets and the communal meals tell us about spirituality.

He starts by considering his own faith – Sikhism. Next, he will look at the Jains.

In this first programme, Hardeep travels to Edinburgh and London to hear how thousands of people receive meals from the langar, or free kitchen, made by Sikh volunteers. In Southall, one temple offers a staggering 5,000 meals a day from early morning to late at night, while a group of young men and women take food out on the streets to those in need, according to the programme synopsis available on the station’s website.

“The temples may be bigger and more ornate, and the langgar more complex, but the ethos that everyone should go and eat together remains the same,” he remarks in the programme. – ASIA SAMACHAR (2 March 2015)


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website:]