Blogging Up The Works

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Food for Thought

There was an article on the BBC website this morning which I now can't find which is a pity because I wanted to at least refer to it in detail if not to link to it. It would also allow me to use the correct terms which I fear I do not remember or could misspell. So bear with me if you spot any glaring errors or omissions.

The article referred to the Sikh practice of providing meals at their temples for people to come and share. I think it is called langar but it is a founding principle of the religion. I have known for ages that this is something that happens because I knew some Sikhs who ran a restaurant and had some of the literature there and it cropped up in our discussions and I've also read about it in the newspapers years back when I would read such publications.

Now, there is one thing about knowing this act of charity goes on but totally another in realising how big an undertaking it is. The largest Sikh temple in the UK, I believe, is the gurdwara in Southall. It throws it's doors open each day to people who wish to come and eat, for free, with nothing in return but to show some respect for the surroundings, to not be under the influence of alcohol and to cover one's head which is an important part of their faith. Not unfair requests in return for a free meal. What I wasn't prepared for were the number of people passing through each day.

It averages 5000 per day midweek, rising to 10,000 per day at the weekends.

Now I know that not everyone going there is going because they are in need. Some will be there because it is their community and one way of joining in with communal meals, others just because they like the company and are from other Sikh communities making contact with a different gurdwara etc. I would imagine that the big increase at the weekend is not made up of the very needy but some of the travelers and local community members who work in the week and this is their chance to socialise. But the 5000 in the week? Many of them must be non-working. Again maybe not all homeless or needy, but how small a percentage do you think it might be and still not think the number is too high. If they are homeless or living on a desperately low wage then even if 10% fell into that category you are talking 500 people who are hungry enough, or poor enough to have to go there to eat, and if they are that poor they probably haven't travelled by car or come long distances.

It is like the foodbanks. There are more and more people needing charity to survive. In another three months there will be an election. I don't see where there is any likelihood of a party being elected who will make a difference.


  • Yes, I saw that article too.
    Very interesting. I never knew they did that. Fair play to them.

    As for your last paragraph: is there ever?

    By Blogger Masher, At 6:55 AM  

  • I lived in Southall in the 60s so knew about the largesse even then. All the chefs and servers are volunteers, I think it is a wonderful thing to happen.

    By Blogger Toffeeapple, At 7:00 PM  

  • Masher - It's a sad indictment of British politics that even the socialist parties are probably too right wing to be in touch with the disadvantaged. A consequence of the majority of MPs who's life experience is a politics degree and a job within the walls of Westminster.
    Toffeeapple - It is indeed a great thing. You can perform langar by volunteering and working or by donating the food. And we were "near" neighbours n the sixties as I grew up in Hanwell.

    By Blogger kennamatic, At 10:39 PM  

  • The only socialist party we have left in the UK is the Green party. New Labour are progressively right wing these days.

    By Blogger Brennig, At 9:17 PM  

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