Flour covers a long table, at which men and women roll out countless balls of dough into flatbread that is then baked on a large grill plate. We’re in the canteen kitchen of Gurdwara Bangla Sahib – the most famous Sikh temple in New Delhi. Pots and pans are stacked everywhere, and the room is full of fragrances and music. Every day enough food is cooked here for thousands of people. The food is free for anyone. Meals are mostly prepared by volunteers. Today, colleagues from the HABA branch in India have signed up for kitchen service. “This type of public food serving has been an inherent part of the Sikh religion for centuries, and can be found in all temples”, explains Samriddhi Sharma, MD & CEO. “Regardless of gender, origin, cast, religion and social status, everyone is welcome to a free meal here. Anybody who’s hungry can come.”
“Everyone comes together, there’s no discrimination.”
At Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, meals are cooked three times per day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Up to 30,000 people come every day – and even more on the weekends. As can be expected, there’s plenty to do in the kitchen, and every helping hand is gratefully accepted. Samriddhi and her team bake bread, peel and cut vegetables, and serve up portions as people stream into the temple at lunchtime. Once their work is done, the HABA team joins the guests. Everyone eats sitting on the ground and mixed together.
“For us it was a great experience to be able to help here today”, says Samriddhi. “Everyone comes together for the cooking and eating – children, men and women – there is no discrimination.”