Sikhs Serve Traditional Communal Meal at Parliament of World's Religions

July 13, 2004

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,736949.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

On July 13, 2004 the Chicago Tribune reported, "Sarup Singh Mahon greets his lunch guests every day, shouting: "Please wait. Only three more minutes. There are no seats now." If that doesn't work, he stretches his short arms out like a police officer at a school crossing or extends a cane to block people. Not exactly the type of hospitality Miss Manners recommends. But what can you expect when 4,000 to 8,000 hungry guests arrive? The hosts are hundreds of Sikhs from India, Canada, the United States and Great Britain. The guests are participants at the Parliament of the World's Religions. An enormous white tent serves as the dining room--and temple, or gurdwara--that the Sikhs set up along Barcelona's seafront, close to where the parliament is holding a weeklong conference ending Tuesday. The length of the wait depends on how many guests Mahon and his fellow Sikhs can persuade to sit back-to-back on the red carpet to make room for whoever might walk up the sandy path. No one is turned away, for this is the 500-year-old Sikh tradition called langar. The communal meals began with the Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th Century when he was sent out by his father in the northern Punjab region of India with 20 rupees. His father told him to make a wise investment. Instead, the young Nanak engaged in another kind of business, explained Nirmal Singh, a Sikh helping at the gurdwara one day."