A Tradition of Equality

April 22, 2007

Author: Kevin Crush

Source: Daily Herald-Tribune


There's something about sitting on the floor that gives a feeling of being one with everybody else. Maybe it brings back memories of sitting with elementary classmates as together we all listened as our teacher read us a story. Or maybe there is just something primeval about being close to the ground.

Whatever it is, sitting on the floor of the basement of the Grande Prairie Sikh temple, eating a lunch with the temple-goers, does foster the feeling of kinship with everyone in the room.

It should. That's what it is supposed to do.

For centuries, Sikhs have been practising a tradition known as the langar, or free kitchen. In Sikh communities, everyone was expected to sit on the floor of the gurdwara or temple and share their meals in the langar regardless of their rank and status in society. A prince may break bread with the pauper beside him.

In the kitchen of the Grande Prairie temple, perhaps a dozen or more women are working on preparing the Sunday langar. Its crowded in the kitchen and a little bit hectic as they work on the lunch for 50 or 60 people.