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No WiFi signal in the barren lands. Can't post on Insta for clout. 😂

I got some more ideas for NY Sikhs. We need to hand out Langar for: - Thanksgiving parade - Gay Pride - St Patrick's Day  

That's what we are good for these days, handing out free food! Any event, catastrophe that is happening in the world, we will be doing the catering!  

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How to Feed Crowds in a Protest or Pandemic? The Sikhs Know

Their centuries-old faith tradition of nourishing anyone in need has found new energy and purpose in America’s turmoil.

 
 
 

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The Sikh Center of New York, in Queens Village, has served more than 145,000 free meals in the last two months, as part of their faith tradition of feeding anyone in need.The Sikh Center of New York, in Queens Village, has served more than 145,000 free meals in the last two months, as part of their faith tradition of feeding anyone in need.Credit...Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

By Priya Krishna

  • June 8, 2020
  •  

Inside a low, brick-red building in Queens Village, a group of about 30 cooks has made and served more than 145,000 free meals in just 10 weeks. They arrive at 4 a.m. three days a week to methodically assemble vast quantities of basmati rice, dal, beans and vibrantly flavored sabzis for New York City hospital workers, people in poverty and anyone else in search of a hot meal.

This isn’t a soup kitchen or a food bank. It’s a gurdwara, the place of worship for Sikhs, members of the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with about 25 million adherents. Providing for people in need is built into their faith.

An essential part of Sikhism is langar, the practice of preparing and serving a free meal to promote the Sikh tenet of seva, or selfless service. Anyone, Sikh or not, can visit a gurdwara and partake in langar, with the biggest ones — like the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India — serving more than 100,000 people every day.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has halted religious gatherings in most of the country, including langar, gurdwaras like the Sikh Center of New York, in Queens Village, are mobilizing their large-scale cooking resources to meet the skyrocketing need for food aid outside their places of worship.

 
 
 
 
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The Queens Village group fed people last week at a Sunnyside protest over the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans by the police.The Queens Village group fed people last week at a Sunnyside protest over the killing of George Floyd and other black Americans by the police.Credit...Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Some are feeding the protesters marching in outrage over the killings of George Floyd and other black Americans by the police. Last week, a dozen or so volunteers from the Queens center served 500 portions of matar paneer, rice and rajma, a creamy, comforting dish of red beans stewed with tomatoes, and 1,000 bottles of water and cans of soda to demonstrators in Sunnyside. They also offered dessert: kheer, a sweetened rice pudding.

 
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“Where we see peaceful protest, we are going,” said Himmat Singh, a coordinator at the World Sikh Parliament, an advocacy group providing volunteers for the Queens Village efforts. “We are looking for justice. We support this.”

Since the pandemic began, soup kitchens have had difficulty keeping up with demand. Shuttered schools and even fine-dining restaurants are using their kitchens to prepare and serve hot meals. But few other places are as well positioned to handle the sheer scale of assistance required right now as the gurdwaras. Most have large, well-equipped kitchens, a steady stream of volunteers and no shortage of ingredients, thanks to regular donations from community members.

During the last annual Sikh Day Parade in New York, in April 2019, the Queens Village kitchen — which has a walk-in cooler, multiple freezers, 50-liter stockpots and a huge grill that can cook dozens of rotis at once — produced 15,000 meals in a single day.

 

 
 
 
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Because of the Sikh tradition of langar, the free meal served at all gurdwaras to anyone who wants it, Sikhs have the resources to distribute food on a large scale.Because of the Sikh tradition of langar, the free meal served at all gurdwaras to anyone who wants it, Sikhs have the resources to distribute food on a large scale.Credit...Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

The Sikhs’ biggest challenge isn’t keeping up with demand. It’s letting people know that they’re here — without making a big show of it or proselytizing, which is forbidden.

Founded in the 15th century in Punjab, India, by the spiritual leader Guru Nanak, Sikhism has an estimated 500,000 followers in the United States and 280 gurdwaras, according to the Sikh Coalition, a civil-rights organization in New York City. One of the most visibly distinctive features of the Sikh practice is the turban — a symbol of the religion’s belief in equality — though not everyone chooses to wear one.

Sikhs in America have been often been prey to bigotry, hate crimes and Islamophobia, particularly since 9/11. A few volunteers said in interviews that before going out to distribute meals, they worried that they might hear ignorant comments. But Santokh Dillon, the president of the Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta, said the people he serves are often more puzzled than prejudiced. Most have never even heard of Sikhism, he said.

When some find out that the meals are free, “They look at us and say, ‘You are kidding, right?’ ”

At least 80 gurdwaras in the United States are now providing food assistance. For many, the transition has been quick and seamless.

This is not just because the infrastructure is already there, said Satjeet Kaur, the executive director of the Sikh Coalition. “The call to action and the responsibility” for helping others is deeply entrenched in the Sikh way of life. Sikhs are expected to donate at least 10 percent of their time or income toward community service.

 
 
 
 
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Himmat Singh, the president of the World Sikh Parliament, is helping to lead the efforts in Queens Village.Himmat Singh, the president of the World Sikh Parliament, is helping to lead the efforts in Queens Village.Credit...Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

 

It took the Gurdwara Sahib of Fremont, Calif., just a few days after suspending religious services in March to set up a meal and grocery delivery program, and a drive-through meal pickup system outside the gurdwara.

Cooks wear gloves and masks, and the kitchen is big enough for workers to stand more than six feet from one another. As at most gurdwaras, the menu changes regularly, but is typically Indian and always vegetarian. (Meat is not permitted in gurdwaras.)

While these Sikh volunteers, known as sevadars, are experts in mass-meal preparation, they aren’t as accustomed to spreading the word. The Fremont kitchen has produced 15,000 to 20,000 meals a day on holidays like New Year’s Eve, said Dr. Pritpal Singh, a member of the gurdwara. But now, the gurdwara is serving just 100 to 150 people each day.

Dr. Singh said he hoped that more people in need would come pick up food. “We could do hundreds of thousands of meals if given the task,” he said.

But with the demonstrations unfolding around the country, Sikhs aren’t waiting for people to come to them any longer. On Tuesday, volunteers from the Gurdwara Sahib attended a protest in Fremont and handed out several hundred bottles of water as a show of solidarity.

On a recent Friday, Gurjiv Kaur and Kiren Singh asked the volunteers at their gurdwara, the Khalsa Care Foundation, in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles, to prepare meals in the community kitchen that they could take to the protest. The next morning, they and others picked up about 700 containers of pasta with a garlic- and onion-laden tomato sauce and 500 bottles of water from the gurdwara, and set up a tent in Pan Pacific Park. Soon, protesters started arriving at the tent with other donations, like medical supplies, snacks and hand sanitizer.

“It is our duty to stand up with others to fight for justice,” said Ms. Kaur, a graduating senior at the University of California, Irvine. “Langar at its core is a revolution — against inequality and the caste system,” the antiquated hereditary class structure in South Asia, which Sikhism has always rejected.

 
 
 
 
 
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Swaranjit Singh Khalsa has been coordinating with five gurdwaras in the Norwich, Conn., area to serve meals at protests.Swaranjit Singh Khalsa has been coordinating with five gurdwaras in the Norwich, Conn., area to serve meals at protests.Credit...Swaranjit Singh Khalsa

In Norwich, Conn., volunteers from five gurdwaras handed out a few hundred bottles of water to protesters last Tuesday, and on Friday, distributed as many containers of rajma, or kidney beans, and rice on a Main Street sidewalk, a block from City Hall.

Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, a volunteer and a member of the Norwich Board of Education, noted that historically, many Sikhs in India have been killed by the police while fighting for their civil rights.

 
 
 
 
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Volunteers at the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das strictly abide by Covid-19 guidelines, wearing masks and gloves while preparing and handing out meals.Volunteers at the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das strictly abide by Covid-19 guidelines, wearing masks and gloves while preparing and handing out meals.Credit...Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

At many gurdwaras in the United States, most of those who show up for langar meals are Sikhs. Now that they are catering to a broader population, menus have changed to suit different tastes. In the Seattle area, volunteers at the Gurudwara Sacha Marag Sahib are making pasta and tacos in addition to rice and dal.

At the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das in Española, N.M., meals have included enchiladas and burritos. Still, Harimandir Khalsa, a volunteer, said the community kitchen is operating at less than 10 percent of its capacity.

 
 
 
 
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Some gurdwaras, like the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, have modified their offerings from the usual Indian food to accommodate local tastes.Some gurdwaras, like the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, have modified their offerings from the usual Indian food to accommodate local tastes.Credit...Ramsay de Give for The New York Times
 

“I think it is about convenience,” Mr. Khalsa said, as the gurdwara isn’t centrally located. “If we had a food truck parked in front of Walmart that said, ‘Free food,’ we could get more takers. But for people to get in their cars and drive over to this place — people aren’t that desperate yet.”

Location is also an issue for the Guru Ramdas Gurdwara Sahib in Vancouver, Wash., as the neighborhood doesn’t have much foot traffic, said Mohan Grewal, the gurdwara secretary. So every other Sunday, volunteers pack up 300 to 400 meals made in the gurdwara and drive them to the Living Hope Church, a Christian congregation six miles away, in a more urban part of the city.

One of the biggest challenges for gurdwaras is that many hospitals, shelters and other charitable organizations they’d like to help don’t take cooked food because of hygienic concerns, or accept it only if it meets certain health codes. Many Sikhs have started collecting and distributing pantry items in addition to making meals.

 
 
 
 
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Many Sikh communities have set up drive-throughs outside their gurdwaras to distribute food. At the Riverside Gurdwara, people line up two hours early to get a meal.Many Sikh communities have set up drive-throughs outside their gurdwaras to distribute food. At the Riverside Gurdwara, people line up two hours early to get a meal.Credit...Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Still, some gurdwaras are bustling. In Riverside, Calif., a hub for the Sikh population, volunteers from the United Sikh Mission, an American nonprofit aid group, and the Khalsa School Riverside, a children’s program, serve 3,000 to 5,000 meals every day at the Riverside Gurdwara. People line up in the drive-through as early as 9:30 a.m., even though it doesn’t open until 11:30.

The process is highly systematized. The cooking team shows up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare meals based on previous days’ numbers, as well as requests from senior centers, hospitals and nursing homes; another team packs the meals into microwave-safe boxes; and the third distributes them at the drive-through and other locations. The gurdwara shares information about the free meals through regular posts on large Facebook groups for local residents.

 
 
 
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Volunteers at the Riverside Gurdwara like Gurpreet Singh hand out 3,000 to 5,000 meals every day.Volunteers at the Riverside Gurdwara like Gurpreet Singh hand out 3,000 to 5,000 meals every day.Credit...Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times  
 

“We didn’t just sit there and say we are going to cook and wait for people to come,” said Gurpreet Singh, a volunteer for the United Sikh Mission.

Since the protests, Mr. Singh and others have been reaching out to black organizations, like churches, offering to drop off meals or groceries. They expect to see an increase in people showing up for meals, as thousands have been attending protests in the area.

 
 
 
 
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In addition to meals, some gurdwaras are also handing out groceries. In addition to meals, some gurdwaras are also handing out groceries. Credit...Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Groups like United Sikhs, an international nonprofit, are helping to get the word out. They have stepped up efforts to identify areas of need, connect gurdwaras with organizations seeking assistance, provide best practices for food preparation during the pandemic and mobilize Sikhs to help feed protesters.

While the pandemic continues, a few gurdwaras aren’t using their kitchens. Tejkiran Singh, a spokesman for the Singh Sabha of Michigan, west of Detroit, said the gurdwara committee decided it was too risky to start a meal distribution service, especially since Michigan has become a hot spot for the coronavirus.

When the Sikh Society of Central Florida, in Oviedo, reopens on June 14, services will be limited to fewer people, and food will be handed out in to-go containers as they leave.

But Amit Pal Singh and Charanjit Singh, the chairman and the treasurer of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, also want to continue the drive-through and delivery services they developed during the pandemic.

 
 

“The concept of langar is to serve the needy,” Mr. Pal Singh said. Before the pandemic, he said, most people participating in langar were local Sikhs coming more for social and religious reasons than out of need. The drive-through and deliveries will allow them to put meals into the hands of people who struggle to afford to eat.

That will mean a lot of extra food for volunteers to prepare, in a city where the Sikh population is still small. But none of that seemed to worry Mr. Pal Singh.

“We would love to be in that situation,” he said, his optimism vibrating through the phone. “We will handle it.”

 
 
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28 minutes ago, Ranjeet01 said:

That's what we are good for these days, handing out free food!

Any event, catastrophe that is happening in the world, we will be doing the catering!

 

Available for everyone else but can't help our own...

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13 minutes ago, Ranjeet01 said:

That's what we are good for these days, handing out free food!

Any event, catastrophe that is happening in the world, we will be doing the catering!

 

At Least we are being shown in positive light 

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52 minutes ago, Premi5 said:

At Least we are being shown in positive light 

That is the problem, it comes off looking being a bit needy.

  It looks like just a big PR stunt and we take a few pictures with media with our smiley faces and we expect a pat on the back.

It makes us looking a bit needy in that we need approval from others.

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Unless these folks are calling down media themselves, it's hard to classify this as a PR stunt. Most of us are likely from UK and Canada, the situation is different in USA. The Sikhs there can use all the positive attention they can get. 

I will agree there is a lot of work to be done in Punjab, and deserves more focus. But, are we as individuals doing anything about that? Or is it just complaining that others are not. We should all donate to SOPW, Ensaaf, and YourSeva. 

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1 hour ago, KhoonKaBadlaKhoon2 said:

Unless these folks are calling down media themselves, it's hard to classify this as a PR stunt. Most of us are likely from UK and Canada, the situation is different in USA. The Sikhs there can use all the positive attention they can get. 

I will agree there is a lot of work to be done in Punjab, and deserves more focus. But, are we as individuals doing anything about that? Or is it just complaining that others are not. We should all donate to SOPW, Ensaaf, and YourSeva. 

Very true, the Sikhs in USA need as much good publicity as possible and these people are different from the Khalsa Aid gadday because they are not running off a thousand miles to feed people who already have millions raised for them. These people are helping in their local community and people that they will interact with in everyday life and not people thousands of miles away. As for Punjab, these people could do more no doubt and we all should be doing more. 

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1 hour ago, proactive said:

Very true, the Sikhs in USA need as much good publicity as possible and these people are different from the Khalsa Aid gadday because they are not running off a thousand miles to feed people who already have millions raised for them. These people are helping in their local community and people that they will interact with in everyday life and not people thousands of miles away. As for Punjab, these people could do more no doubt and we all should be doing more. 

KA is also involved too. American Sikhs are the most far left communist SJW pro Pakistani/Islamist, out there. I think these different 'Sikh' Charities' , Gurdwara's committees, are taking page from KA that they can raise millions from 'free food' distribution, raises their profiles, backing from liberal media outlets, politicians, = $$$ ..and cont to whitewash Sikhi as sjw religion 

Last week some  Sikhs started a petition for Hassan Minaj, who's pro Islamist goes on about free Kashmir, free Gaza' for cover 1984 Sikh genocide on his show...like begging him social media...so pathetic and desperate,,we are asking Indian Muslim, who's going to prob call Khalistans as terrorists to talk about Sikh affairs...how sad! 

Has any Muslim come forward to pay for rebuild damage Gurudwara in Kashmir, Derby or help out those Afghan Sikhs?? I remember during NZ christchurch, the Sikh raised over $60,000 to help the families...any Muslim or else come to help Sikhs? 

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9 minutes ago, Kau89r8 said:

 

I think I have been to that gurdwara in Queens. I recognise that Langar Hall.

These are the same Sikhs who prefer to live in Queens to Brooklyn because it is better to pay a few hundred dollars a month more in rent because they don't want to live in a 'kallu ' area (their words not mine).

They hate kaleh because there have been so many 711/cab drivers mugged /robbed /killed .

These same Sikhs are now are running to Long Island. 

We feed these "BLM" protestors, question is whether they will remember what we Sikhs have done for them, or whether they will carry on robbing and looting.

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22 minutes ago, Ranjeet01 said:

I think I have been to that gurdwara in Queens. I recognise that Langar Hall.

These are the same Sikhs who prefer to live in Queens to Brooklyn because it is better to pay a few hundred dollars a month more in rent because they don't want to live in a 'kallu ' area (their words not mine).

They hate kaleh because there have been so many 711/cab drivers mugged /robbed /killed .

These same Sikhs are now are running to Long Island. 

We feed these "BLM" protestors, question is whether they will remember what we Sikhs have done for them, or whether they will carry on robbing and looting.

Family also lives in USA, and own a lot retail stores, gas stations, shops...one cousin worked really hard owned business Chicago, was about to be first time father, group of kaleh came asked him to give them money, he gave it,,they looted the shop, and shot him there and ran. Others cousins live NJ, NY say same thing, how they cant hire kaleh workers because they loot, scared being killed, and they dont call police cause more trouble so they fire them...lol

Remember Sikhs were feed 'langar' in Delhi against he CAA protests,,then Islamist slaughtered the Afghan Sikhs,..our kaum clearly doesn't give damn,..only care about pr and clout

 

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