Students in the UK city of Birmingham have proved there is such thing as a free lunch after serving up more than 500 free meals as part of an important Sikh tradition. Birmingham City University Students’ Union and its Sikh Society hosted the ‘Langar on Campus’ in the Atrium at Millennium Point on March 15 between 10 am and 4 pm.
‘Langar’, meaning kitchen in Punjabi, is an important institution in Sikhism, where free food is offered to anyone who attends.This is the third time a large-scale langar has been held at Birmingham City University in the UK, and this year over 500 people from across the city came to enjoy a hot meal and gain a greater insight into the Sikh faith.
‘Langar on Campus’ is an event organised by Sikh students in universities all across the world, where students, staff and community members from all backgrounds come together and eat. Everyone sits on a carpet together at the same level – signifying equality – and only vegetarian food is served in order to cater for everyone, no matter what their diet is.
The langar started in 15th century India by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status; a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of India at that time.
Often, langars will be attached to gurdwaras, a place of worship for Sikhs. Traditionally, everyone shares the tasks of preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning in the langar, and the food is donated by members of the local community.
One of the most famous langars is the kitchen at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, which provides food for upwards of 100,000 people during religious holidays and weekends. However, open-air langars – like the one in Millennium Point – are also popular and are among the most attended community meals anywhere in the world.
Amrit Kaur, Secretary of Birmingham City University Sikh Society, said: “Our Sikh Society was blessed with the opportunity to organise the third annual ‘Langar on Campus’ event. Through this event, we were able to spread the beautiful message of our first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, that everyone is welcome to a free vegetarian meal regardless of their religion, gender or colour. We dearly hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as we did.”
Incidentally, with over 24,000 students from 80 countries, Birmingham City University is a large, diverse and increasingly popular place to study in the UK. The University puts students at the heart of everything it does, giving them the best opportunities for future success. The ‘Langar on Campus’ clearly proves this.