This is the story of no ordinary kitchen. This is a kitchen which runs for 24 hours, 7 days, and feeds over a 100,000 people every day regardless of race, caste, creed gender or religion. Here everything works on one underlying philosophy: ‘Every human being is equal.’
On an average, the Golden Temple kitchen uses 5000 kgs of firewood and over 100 LPG gas cylinders for preparing the food every day. Hundreds of volunteers serve meals, wash utensils and help run the kitchen apart from over 400 staff members. Anyone with a good heart is allowed to help in the process.
The concept of equality is visible everywhere, from the place where people stay around the Gurudwara complex to the ‘lungar’ (a concept of free dining for every one).
Be it helping in managing shoes of the devotees or providing water to a fellow human being, volunteerism is a way of life at the Golden Temple. Skin color fades in front of goodness, and religion does not matter in the sea of humanity here.
The Golden Temple of Amritsar, which was recently in the news following violence on the 30th anniversary of the Operation Blue Star, is a must visit even if you are an atheist. A visit to this place will teach you more about volunteering and management than working in any organization or startup. The annual running costs of the ‘lungar’ run into hundreds of crores and everything is managed by donations from around the world.
Situated in Amritsar, the Golden Temple is a place of worship for followers of the Sikh religion, but regardless of this anybody can visit the place and help out with the proceedings.
Every day, food is served to over a 100,000 people in the ‘lungar’, which runs 24/7 with the help of volunteers who come from all over the world to help out in the temple.
Hundreds of people come together and help prepare the food, be it cutting the vegetables or sorting them. The kitchen is not restricted to women alone. All gender stereotypes vanish at this place.
Volunteering at the Golden Temple has no age restriction; anyone can help whether they are 8 years old or 80.
After eating, the utensils are segregated into small (spoons) and medium (plates and bowls). Volunteers (either side of the photo) collect them for easy categorization and washing.
The utensils are washed multiple times to ensure that they are clean and not a speck of food is remaining on them. This is done mostly by volunteers.
Volunteers coming together to wash the utensils, while their personal belongings remain safe and untouched by water. The management makes sure that the volunteers are taken good care of while they serve.
Volunteers having tea in bowls (all liquid is served in bowls instead of glasses here) after they have worked at the washing station.
Plates being arranged for the next round of serving. Over 300,000 utensils are washed here every day.
As another group of people walk in to eat, the eagerness to serve surpasses all human boundaries.
After they have eaten, some people prefer to head towards Diwan Hall Manji Sahib to rest for a few minutes. Nobody belongs to any class when it comes to God. All you need is five feet of ground to sleep on.
Anywhere around 7000-10,000 kgs of flour is used every day to cook meals in the kitchen.
Volunteers and staff work together to prepare chapattis (prasad). Anywhere between 200,000 to 300,000 chapattis are consumed every day.
The joy of serving others knows no bounds.
While entering the temple one has to step into a flowing stream of water to clean their feet. This signifies that they clean themselves of all their prejudices and biases against fellow human beings.
Some people also prefer to take bath in the holy lake which surrounds the temple.
Volunteering is welcome at anyplace and no job is too small or menial for volunteers; be it the shoe keeping counter or serving water to passersby.
Thanks to the goodwill and donation from people around the world, counters like this serve cold drinks in hot weather at half the price to visitors.
Hundreds of people stay in the complex free of cost, sleeping in the open courtyard under the starry sky at night.