I started this blog about various facts about the world because I can talk and I can write. and more than anything else I wish to Travel and so does my mind. I basically wish to speak to everybody and in every tongue.
But, the only thing about the World I know well about, yet, is something that my parents’ attempts at religious upbringing led me to.
I know! Parents again..right! Ah! Well..
I admit I have been to the Golden Temple more than ten times in my life. And I don’t believe in religions or practice one.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar is a shrine of the Sikh Religion and that which is of prime significance to Sikhs all over the world due to cultural, location-al and religious reasons. Towns in Punjab have legends about the Sikh Gurus’ (most of them were born around here or had significant details of their lives dealt hereabouts). Besides Patna and Nanded, towns in Bihar and Maharashtra respectively, the cities of Punjab and Amritsar especially hold maximum significance in Sikh Culture. But, due to a more thick presence and belief in the Sikh and Punjabi culture in Northern India the Cultural Relevance of Golden Temple in very high. The Golden Temple at Amritsar attracts the Maximum footfall among all Sikh shrines in the World.
(Photo Sourced from- www.goldentempleamritsar.org/)
The central shrine is a Gold-Plated structure that stands in the Middle of a water body which is considered sacred. The Temple has 4 entrances, one on each side of its cubical lower-half representing a door for every class from the society. However, entry for all is one. On special occasions the queue for the Main shrine, covered and well ventilated, makes people wait for about 2 Hours before they can enter. The shrine is almost always and at all times extremely crowded. The rituals here can be between awe-inspiring and extravagant to minds depending upon their bent. (Cue- Press Button to React) For Example- The place is cleaned with milk each night!
The food served in the kitchen is called ‘Langar’. ‘Langar’ is the Punjabi word for Communal Kitchen and was conceptualized by the First Sikh Guru who taught equality and believed that everyone should sit down to eat together.
The Kitchen at Golden Temple feeds upwards of 40,000 people from all segments of society. A humongous hall with two floors allows hundreds of people to sit down and eat together every 15 minutes. This number and the frequency go up on special occasions that range from Sundays to Public Holidays to the Birth and Death Anniversaries of the Gurus.
90% of the staff who prepare the food consists of volunteers. A room as big as a school hall is devoted to making Chappatis (breads) using a huge machine that rolls out dough and then make flat breads out of it. This ensures that the breads aren’t burnt or half-baked which is possible when so many people want to contribute! Earlier, the Chappatis were hand-made, even now villages and towns send baskets full of prepared food, out of reverence, every now and then.
And some how, there is hygiene of the highest order- people cooking with clean hands, covered hair (and sometimes with their mouths covered up too..)
(Photo Sourced from- http://www.goldentempleamritsar.org/)
I eat as if my life depends on it and for all my salt’s worth I can guarantee nobody falls sick after eating here. And I am not religious or even sure about my beliefs. But, if I were to choose one religion it’ll be eating together- even though I am allergic to or don’t do well with half the ingredients in the world.
After one is done eating and comes out, the plates are taken over by Sewadars (comprising of volunteers and Temple staff) who empty the plates and wash them step-by-step and dry them for the Next Serving.
And this unending cycle of eating and cooking continues 24 hours of a day…All days of the week..All weeks of the year and…All years of life….Much like life…..