Sikhism is highly respected around the world for its strong value system and kindness towards humanity at large.
But the one practice that shines brightest is that of sharing food. Sikhs have always been known for organising langars, communal meals served to the hungry and the needy. These kitchens can be found at gurdwaras, temples or any place for that matter. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, initiated this tradition in the 15th century to spread equality.
Since then, I doubt anyone has returned hungry from a Sikh’s doorstep.
The most uplifting part of it all? A langar is open to all; irrespective of religion, caste, colour, gender or cultural background.
This has been proved once again by a Sikh community in New Jersey that has been feeding thousands of people who can't afford meals.
Through the charity event Let’s Share A Meal, initiated in 2008 by Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara in Jersey City, 500 volunteers have cooked and distributed vegetarian meals to 80 locations in the States this time.
They dedicated the entire weekend to the mammoth task with deliveries extending into the week. According to the chief organiser, Onkar Singh, the event just keeps on getting better.
The fact that this event gets bigger and bigger every year is testament to the fact that there is still humanity left in people. With everything you see in the media, it’s easy to get discouraged and think what’s going to happen in the future.
Store owners also stepped forward to help and donated pasta, bread and soda for the great cause.
Onkar says that his volunteers’ relentless efforts in making sure that maximum people are fed moved him tremendously. He sees this gesture as a beacon of hope in the midst of all the hate prevalent in America today.
My message to the community is to stop trying to find the differences between one another and look beyond at our similarities. We are all humans at the end and we should all look at each other the same and help where help is needed.
Unfortunately, hate crimes against Sikhs have been on the rise since 9/11. Here’s hoping America can see and cherish these wonderful people for what they are: kind, harmonious and generous.