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Sharing a Traditional Sikh Meal on Staten Island

Langar from City Spoonful on Vimeo.


This article was originally posted on City Spoonful, an online magazine of New York food and culture. We’ve posted their videos in the past including one about Muslim street-food vendors during Ramadan. 

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, serves food to more than 100,000 people each day. The temple, a Sikh place of worship called a gurudwara, is simply carrying out one of the basic practices of the Sikh religion: providing a free meal, a langar, to anyone who visits—regardless of race, caste or creed.

But you don’t have to travel to India to take part in this religious custom. Langar meals are served after every service at gurudwaras throughout New York City, including the Staten Island Gurudwara, in Concord, featured in this video.

Langar is not meant to be a charity meal or a donation to the poor. Instead, it’s a way of bringing the community together.

The meal itself exemplifies two of the most important tenets of Sikhism: equality and community service. That egalitarian philosophy is emphasized by the custom of eating langar on the floor, where everyone literally sits at the same level.

“If you go to any langar hall, you can see that everybody is sitting on the floor,” says Gurpreet Singh Sodhi, a member of the Staten Island Gurudwara. “You’re all sitting at the same level and having food together.”

The meal is prepared entirely by congregation members who volunteer to cook at the gurudwara. The food is strictly vegetarian, which ensures that no one is excluded from the meal.

“Anyone and everyone who visits the gurudwara can have langar,” Sodhi says.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. 



AboutFeet in Two Worlds
Feet in Two Worlds brings the work of immigrant and ethnic media journalists from communities across the U.S. to public radio and the web. Since 2005, this award-winning project has expanded the diversity of voices and stories on public radio by presenting the work of journalists representing a broad spectrum of immigrant communities including Arab, Bosnian, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Indian, Irish, Latin American, Pakistani, Polish, and Russian immigrants. Feet in Two Worlds reporters appear on nationally-distributed public radio programs including PRI’s The World, Studio 360, and The Takeaway, American Public Media’s Marketplace and NPR’s Latino USA, as well as on public radio stations WNYC, New York Public Radio, and WDET in Detroit.