In every Gurdwara Sahib in Singapore the Sikh sangat eats langar on tables and chairs which is against an Akal Takht Hukamnama. It is understood if handicapped persons are eating langar on tables and chairs but not all.
The concept of Pangat is eliminated if all sangat eats langar on tables and chairs.
By sitting on tables everyone isn’t technically sitting together without discrimination of caste, colour, creed, etc. When you have tables and chairs then people will tend to sit in groups. They will sit with people they want to enjoy their food with, not any different then a college cafeteria. By forming rows and sitting together, one forms discipline and respects the values of pangat.
Why should Sikhs sit on the floor whilst having Langar?
The basic principal of langar is equality and humility; the ideas behind Sikhism stress practicality and logic. It
is a sign of humility for the rich to sit with the poor, and make everyone equal, but it is not fair to expect
the poor to raise themselves to the level of the rich just for one meal. All sitting in a pangat are eating a
meal together, setting aside all differences and pretentions and by sitting on the ground, you are literally
lowering your self which subconsciously lowers one’s ego.
Serving langar to the pangat sitting on the floor looks hard only because we are not accustomed to doing
that. If we go to Amritsar or Anandpur Sahib, we will see thousands of people being served langar while
sitting on the floor. We too have to learn the technique and get used to it. It gives a greater feeling of unity
and equality while sitting together like that and eating langar.
In some Gurdwaras in the West, they have introduced chairs and tables for eating food. It is not a
restaurant where eating food is the objective and chairs are needed to sit on. We go to the Gurdwara for
spiritual lessons, not for a buffet meal.
Sitting on the floor has its own charm and pleasure; it sends the proper message to all that being humble in
the presence of the Guru is paramount. Where else would you see a corporate CEO, doctor, taxi driver and
poor person, or in earlier times a Maharaja and a Guru, all sitting together and not on chairs, or cushions or
thrones but on the floor like the poorest of the poor. It is a slap-in-the-face reality check that no matter
how rich, powerful or self-important you may think of yourself, in the eyes of Waheguru we are all human
beings and we are all equal.
For those who think sitting on tables and chairs in langar is about ‘modern times’, or eating a meal in
comfort and convenience, you are completely missing the whole point of this extraordinary gift to us.
On April 20, 1998, a HukamNama from the Supreme Temporal Authority of the Sikhs, Akal Takhat Sahib,
was issued to the entire Khalsa Panth in regards to Guru-Ka-Langar. The HukamNama issued by Jathedar
Singh Sahib Bhai Ranjit Singh Ji, after intense consultations with other Singh Sahibs, Sikh intellectuals,
historians, and respected Sikh priests, directs all Sikh Gurdwaras to follow the centuries old Panthic
tradition of partaking Guru-Ka-Langar in the form of a Pangat (on the floor). The HukamNama directed all
Gurdwaras worldwide to remove any chairs and tables used for consuming Langar by the Shaheedee
Gurpurab of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Jee in 1998.
Guruji designed an institution in which all people would sit on the floor together as equals, to eat the same
simple food. It is here that all people high or low, rich or poor, male or female, young or old, all sit in the
same pangat to share and enjoy the food together.
W.O. Cole, a well known author on Sikhism, said “…, the unique concept of universality and the system of
Langar (free community meal) in Sikhism are the two features that attract me towards the study of Sikhism.
Langar is the exclusive feature of Sikhism and found nowhere else in the world. Sikhism is the only religion
which welcomes each and every one to its langar without any discrimination of caste, creed, colour, or sex.”
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