First I would like to begin with the values of Sikhism. Sikhs must believe in equality.
No discrimination is allowed on the basis of creed, gender, race, caste, status, colour, education, etc. The principles of brotherhood and universal equality are extremely important in the Sikh faith.
We visited the Golden Temple in the afternoon, and we enjoyed our time there so much that we stayed for quite a few hours.
It was a 2km walk from our hotel to downtown Amritsar. The temple was built in the 16th century by Guru Arjan Dev. Members of Sikhism are considered warriors, promoting peace and equality.
The Golden Temple is open to any and all visitors, but first everyone must clean their hands and feet before entering.
Cody and I left our shoes at a booth, washed our hands at the taps provided, and proceeded to walk through a shallow pool of water to clean our feet. We also had to cover our heads.
Our bare feet walked over a smooth marble floor that lead us to the beautiful Golden Temple surrounded by water mirroring the structure.
Within the walls of the golden temple there is a free kitchen, or “Langar” in Punjabi.
The kitchen provides over 50,000 meals a day to anyone who shows up. The concept of langars was initiated thousands of years ago by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
No one goes hungry and everyone receives a simple hot meal regardless of religion, creed, or class.
We decided to join several hundred people in the dining hall for lunch. Before entering we were handed a clean metal plate, a spoon, and a bowl. We filed into a large room, sat on the floor, and placed our plates on the ground.
Shortly after sitting, men with different types of dishes passed by, asking us if we would like our plates filled. Our meal was a simple, tasty meal consisting of dal, rice, and chapati. The men walked by a few more times to see if we would like more food.
Wasting food is considered very disrespectful so we made sure to finish everything. It was extremely humbling to be sitting cross legged with hundreds of other people, enjoying a meal together, knowing it was lovingly made by hundreds of volunteers.
We forget about our differences when love and unity are the focus.
Volunteers also wash about 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls used in feeding the people. Watching at least 80 volunteers cleaning all of the dishes, I felt emotion wash over me.
It really takes the simplest of good deeds to make a difference, and the power of a good deed is multiplied when working together.
The food is vegetarian/vegan and the expenses are managed through donations from all over the world. All restaurants in the town surrounding the Golden Temple are also 100% pure veg, even the McDonald’s. Alcohol is also prohibited.
After our meal, we continued to walk around the Golden Temple. There were very few foreigners in the area, so we stood out quite a bit.
Many people were curious, and it being India, they were not shy to stare, and stare some more. But as soon as I smiled, every person reflected a big warm smile right back at me.
We even had quite a few people wanting to take photos with us, and one woman gave me her sweet baby to take photos with.
With a world so engulfed in violence, fear, and religious wars, it was nice to spend time in a place that promotes equality for all, irrespective of our differences around the globe.
There are four entrances of the holy shrine located at all four directions. They signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome.
It’s a beautiful message, and definitely a message we stand by.