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Serving Kindness


It is lunchtime at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, and of the nearly 100,000 people who eat here on an average day, not a single one person will pay for their meal. Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch?

The institution of Sikh Langar, or free kitchen, expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. It was started by Guru Nanak to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, color, age, gender or social status, a revolutionary concept in a society divided by the caste system of 16th-century India, where Sikhism began.

Though Sikh temples around the world have free kitchens, the langar at this colossal complex of white marble and gold is the biggest and most elaborate. With more than 100,000 visitors on weekdays, swelling up to 150,000 on holy days, the Golden Temple attracts more people than even the Taj Mahal. After contemplation or prayer, devotees and visitors alike move in droves towards the langar, where the hundreds of volunteers are busy preparing food around the clock. The food never runs out, and no one is ever turned away.


At the center of Sikh teachings about selfless service and equality is the Langar, or free community kitchen. The float theme “Serving Kindness” was chosen to share this incredible Sikh tradition in which all markers of religion, caste, and social status are erased as participants share a meal as equals. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of Langar teaches the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness, and oneness of all humankind.


Sikhs values are rooted in hope, humility, and community service. The parade theme “Making a difference” resonates strongly with Sikh values of selfless service. 90% of the Langar at the Golden Temple is prepared by volunteers from every path of life, and 100% of raw material is donated. By feeding thousands of people daily, volunteers practice non-discrimination and oneness with people from all over the world. As you collect your shoes on your way out of the Golden Temple, you may even find them wiped clean of dust as part of Sikh ethos of humility.

Sikh Temples and Sikh communities all over the world have been at the forefront in providing Langar and disaster relief to victims of catastrophes such as earthquake in Nepal, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, wildfires in California and hurricane Harvey in Houston.

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