Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Is Home To Delhi’s Largest Community Kitchen

Delhi’s Gurudwara Banga Sahib is thronged with devotees on any given day. The grounds see long queues waiting to enter the main area of worship, which allows visitors to pray and remain for as long as they like. On exiting, mounds of kada prasad are plopped into folded hands. 

Kada prasad isn’t the only item prepared by the gurudwara’s kitchen, which is deemed the largest in Delhi. Dal and different curries like palak paneer are churned out in huge quantities, along with chapatis and rice. On special days, there’s kheer. 

The community kitchen cooks and doles out 800 kilograms of dal and vegetable curry, chapatis made out of 1,700 kilograms of atta, and 400 kilograms of rice daily. Over 35,000 people are fed each day, and the number goes up to 100,000 on festivals. Food begins to be served at 5am every day and this continues until late in the night. Since the kitchen is open 24/7, no one who visits and asks for food even outside of these hours is turned away.

All gurudwaras around the world have community kitchens attached to them. When Sikhism was founded in the 15th century, Guru Nanak used money that his father gave him to feed a group of hungry men. He bought groceries for them and asked them to cook and eat together, which became the tradition of langar or community meals as we know it today.

Langars allow Sikhs to partake in sewa. Sewadars generally help with cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, and also serve food to devotees. Due to the large crowds that gather at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, most of the cleaning and cooking in the kitchen has been automated. However, there is a corner where Sikh families roll out and cook chapatis manually before sending them out into the dining hall. Besides this, the kitchen has a chapati-making machine into which atta is fed. It churns out dough, which is pressed and cooked, and then comes out of the machine as chapattis, which are served with ghee. Every kitchen worker has been assigned a specific duty. Some helpers collect dough and feed it to the chapati-making machine. Others slather the chapatis with ghee.

Langar is taken very seriously. Cooks are trained for a year before they officially begin working in the kitchen. They work as assistants to other cooks before they begin preparing langar themselves. The taste and purity of the food is evident to anyone who has eaten in the dining halls of the gurudwara. With thousands of people to feed, it’s no secret that the gurudwara kitchen has a strong sense of responsibility. The generosity and sentiment behind these meals speaks highly of the entire community.