Sikhs have to go beyond serving free food

| Opinion | Canberra, Australia | 8 Nov  2016 | Asia Samachar |
Aussie lawyer Adut named 2017 New South Wales Australian of the Year for often representing members of Sydney's Sudanese community
Aussie lawyer Adut named 2017 New South Wales Australian of the Year for often representing members of Sydney’s Sudanese community

Sikhs are known for their selfless service. People are awed to see thousands of meals prepared by volunteers at its places of worship called gurdwara. Hundreds of groups of Sikhs have ventured into providing free food to the needy in countries like Malaysia, UK and the US.

While public recognition is not the goal, the distribution of free food to the needy has brought about goodwill to the community. People do notice these band of Sikhs feeding the homeless and the needy.

In an on-going Australian award, for example, taxi operator Tejinder Pal Singh was named as the Northern Territory Australia’s Local Hero 2017.

He cooks and distributes free food to the needy in Canberra, once a month. After a grueling 12 hour taxi driving stint, he spends the next five hours cooking, and then distributing the food with fellow volunteers.

What a spirited Sikh. It reminds one of the title of Guru-inspired author Puran Singh’s book, The Spirit Born People.

Where it works and where is helps, free food distribution should go on. It should be encouraged and supported. It has its place. It amplifies out Guru Ka Langgar concept.

SEE ALSO: Aussie taxi operator Tejinder Pal Singh named Northern Territory Local Hero 2017

SEE ALSO: Ham joins MERCY Malaysia team to Nepal 

But Sikhs must also venture beyond providing free food. They must translate the desire to perform selfless service, inspired by the teachings of Gurmat, into other areas. Sikhs have to widen the space through which they contribute to humanity.

They have to venture into areas where the need is real, pressing even. They need to go out and get involved in stuff that will make a difference to the lives of the people around them, and beyond. Their ‘seva’, the Sikh parlance for selfless service, must touch real people, must help transform people’s day-to-day lives.

So, what else can Sikhs do? Plenty. The same Australian award that recognised Tejinder Pal throws up some interesting ideas. Take, for example, what refugee and criminal lawyer Deng Adut does.

At the age of six, Deng was snatched from his family and forced to fight as a soldier in Sudan in north-eastern Africa. He escaped into Kenya, and arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1998.

Adut, who now runs a law firm in Blacktown, often represents members of Sydney’s Sudanese community, fr which he has been named the 2017 New South Wales Australian of the Year.

“It means a lot, it means that I have to work extremely hard because I don’t think I deserve it, so I have to work to deserve it,” he said. “I’ve lost 17 other members of my family when the war broke out in 2013, I could be dead like them, that is what it means,” he said in quotes shared at the award website.

Here’s another example. The 2017 Northern Territory Australian of the Year is indigenous leader Andrea Mason.

Working across a 350,000 square kilometre stretch of central Australia, she is helping Indigenous women to raise strong, healthy children.

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Andrea brings together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal thinking to create employment, support health and wellbeing, and tackle domestic violence and other social challenges.

Tejinder Pal, Adut and Andrea are wonderful examples of people going beyond themselves. We need more Sikhs to join their ranks. This time, we need them to think beyond providing merely free food. We need more to get out of the comforts of their life and make a difference out there.

Taxi operator Tejinder Pal Singh named Australia's Local Hero 2017 - PHOTO / GRAB FROM AWARD TWEETER POST
Taxi operator Tejinder Pal Singh named Australia’s Local Hero 2017 – PHOTO / GRAB FROM AWARD TWEETER POST


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


Aussie taxi operator Tejinder Pal Singh named Northern Territory Local Hero 2017 (Asia Samachar, 4 Nov 2016)

American Sikhs, Latinos serve free hot meals in Washington DC (Asia Samachar, 10 June 2016)

Free dental clinic treat 200 patients at Malacca Sikh annual prayer (Asia Samachar, 24 May 2016)

President Obama to appoint Sikh to presidential advisory council (Asia Samachar, 14 May 2016)

Engineer cooks for 1,400 Penang prison inmates, Kirpa Foodbank Malaysia launched (Asia Samachar, 27 Aug 2015)

Ham joins MERCY Malaysia team to Nepal (Asia Samachar, 4 May 2015)

Singapore Sikhs donate to Mercy Relief for Nepal (Asia Samachar, 30 Apr 2015)

Malaysia’s CMSO works with Khalsa Aid to aid Nepal (Asia Samachar, 29 Apr 2015)



    Hb Singh: Sikhs are involved in a good number of activities to serve humanity. The article does not capture it. Perhaps, the intention is to bring attention to what seems to be a new fad – at least in Malaysia – of providing free food to the supposed needy. In one place, I’m told, they guys who go out with langgar cooked at a gurdwara actually ‘run out’ of people to whom they can give the food. The other day, I was told that a group of expats (from the working class) wanted to do something for Diwali. What did they have in mind? Free food distribution at Brickfields. Whatever for? How will that one-off event help anybody? But that’s the mentality of some. In that sense, the article is giving us a headsup on what not to do.

  2. Sikhs should preserve their distict identity i.e. beard pugri turbon. I suggest that, to begin with, every Sikh should stand up, when an old, infirm or a women is travelling in a train or bus, and offer them their seat, politely, without being requested. It does not cost anything but it would spread a positive message for Sikhs.


    Narindar Jaswal: There are many unsung Sikh heros doing voluntary services in varied areas like providing free legal clinics, health check-ups for elderly, philanthropy, free tuition services etc. We are proud of them too. Free langgar service will always be our hallmark of our culture and race and we are proud of it !??

    Jespal Singh Brar: The assumption is that not enough Sikhs are doing Sewa beyond serving food. There are so many unsung sewadars who serve in many different capacities across the globe. This might be an assumption that could be true locally but the call to Sewa is being met in many areas across the globe.

    Jodh Dheensay: He is probably unaware of the blood donations, medical aid for the poor, helping out with the Tsunami victims in Acheh to name a few.