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Taking food to share at langar


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Guest School Teacher

Having taken my class of children to visit a local gurdwara and wishing myself to learn more about your faith, I would like to attend on a Sunday at the lovely gurdwara we visited. My question: would it be acceptable for me to contribute my own cake/dish to be shared at langar? This would be home-cooked (and with many home-grown ingredients). It would be prepared out of the respect and thanks I have for the wonderful sikh community which welcomed us so freely and lovingly, while providing such a rich educational experience to us all; adults and children alike; when we visited the gurdwara.

Many thanks for reading this message and hopefully giving me guidance!

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There should be no problems with doing this. Often people make food from home (or buy food from shops) and bring it in to share with others. 

The only caveat would be that it should no contain egg, fish, poultry or meat. This includes things like gelatine. Milk, butter, yoghurt, and honey are okay. Otherwise, make something that is vegan. 

Additionally make sure that you are free of intoxicants (alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs). 

 

I'm sure others will come and offer further advice but that's all I can remember for now. 

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On 5/9/2018 at 2:03 AM, Guest School Teacher said:

My question: would it be acceptable for me to contribute my own cake/dish to be shared at langar? This would be home-cooked (and with many home-grown ingredients).

Wonderful sentiment. But your idea is fraught with problems in relation to sensitivities regarding food ingredients, and the ability to trust that something prepared from the outside (and especially by a non-Sikh) is OK for consumption. The reason I say "non-Sikh" is not because Sikhs won't eat food prepared by non-Sikhs; the vast majority happily do so.

The reason I say it is because the vast majority of non-Sikhs are unfamiliar with details of prohibited ingredients, as elucidated above. Secondly, non-Sikhs are unfamiliar with concepts of jooth (don't taste the food while you're preparing it, don't have a taste after you're done and before it has been offered at the Gurdwara).

Now, I suppose you could become familiar with such concepts, but the what about the next person who wants to offer food in this manner? Maybe he/she won't be so familiar, word will get out, and a contentious situation will arise where there wasn't one before.

My advice: Buy a bunch of fruit wholesale and donate that. You get to reciprocate with love, and no problems arise, either.

You can also donate store-bought ghee (clarified butter) or milk. That's what most Sikhs do. Donating ghee or milk is considered especially auspicious because those items are relatively more expensive and sought-after (as opposed to salt or flour).

But for you, fruit would still be best, because the congregation will remember that you donated fruit.

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On 5/10/2018 at 1:28 AM, BhForce said:

My advice: Buy a bunch of fruit wholesale and donate that. You get to reciprocate with love, and no problems arise, either.

You can also donate store-bought ghee (clarified butter) or milk. That's what most Sikhs do. Donating ghee or milk is considered especially auspicious because those items are relatively more expensive and sought-after (as opposed to salt or flour).

But for you, fruit would still be best, because the congregation will remember that you donated fruit.

It's funny how having an outside perspective on an issue causes one to think about the same issue in a wholly different way.

I've never considered the idea that donating dry goods, such as fruit, vegetables, flour, etc, to be an issue in itself, but having read OP's question I started wondering how impersonal it does seem -- to dump a bunch of ingredients in a carrier bag at the gurdwara so someone else can use them to prepare a meal -- to someone not accustomed to the valid traditions and ways of the langar system. Of course, logistically and for religious reasons such as the previously mentioned idea of sucham, I wouldn't be comfortable eating langar that I know has originated wholly from someone else's kitchen. Yes, the potential for "questionable practices" isn't 100% eliminated in the gurdwara's own kitchen, but it's a good leveller and a necessary base of operations for the langar system which is a cornerstone of our religion in many ways.

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1 hour ago, MisterrSingh said:

Of course, logistically and for religious reasons such as the previously mentioned idea of sucham, I wouldn't be comfortable eating langar that I know has originated wholly from someone else's kitchen.

Yeah, while I appreciate the feelings of the OP teacher, the vast majority of non-Sikhs in the west have no clue about our dietary practices.

  • For example, Christians seem to think that fish is not meat. (This is because the Catholic church accepts fish for eating on non-meat Fridays.)
  • They don't think that a small amount of meat/animal product/gelatin/etc. mixed into a food product is a big deal.
  • They think that eggs are OK for non-vegetarian diet.
  • They don't think it's a big deal to add some alcohol to foods which alcohol will supposedly evaporate during baking.
  • Also, if you've ever seen a kitchen scene on TV, people take a spoon/ladleful of spaghetti sauce or whatever, taste it, and then put the ladle back into the pot!

If the Gurdwara makes an exception for the teacher, then they'd have to make an exception for everybody, thereby leading either to messy situations or the obliteration of our maryada (code of conduct).

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