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SOCIETY & CUSTOMS SPIRITUAL

How Community Kitchens are binding all religions

July 13, 2016

Sharing food is as old as time itself. When we share food, it draw us closer to Humanity and to the Creator.

To feed Hungry is one of the commonest ways to serve Humanity. It eliminates hatred and cultivate Love among people irrespective of the caste and creeds.

Community kitchens (also called collective kitchens) are community-based cooking programs where groups of people come together to prepare meals and serve others. It binds people together. At a time when religious intolerance is increasing, food can infuse the religious tolerance among people. Food can break the walls that divide people.

Food has the power and potential to achieve world peace. When we eat at Community kitchens, we don’t know the faith of the person who has made it. We respect their willingness to serve rather than questioning their beliefs. Every faith has the concept of sharing food.

Christians call it soup kitchen. Sikhs call it Langar. Hindus believe sharing food is the best karma. Buddhists make a feast and the food cooked there is served by monks to all visitors. Among Muslims, there are iftars and they cannot break their fast till their neighbor has not satisfied his hunger.


The Wheel of Dharma (BUDDHISM)

This food is the gift of the whole universe,
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life,
May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food,
Give me the strength,
To transform my unwholesome qualities
into wholesome ones.
I am grateful for this food,
May I realize the Path of Awakening,
For the sake of all beings.

Namo Amida Buddha.

 

Celebrating Nowruz (ZOROASTRIANISM)

The person who abstains from food, or takes insufficient food, has neither enough strength to practice active virtues, nor can he till the earth, nor beget children, nor is he able to withstand hardship and pain.”

The Zoroastrian approach to life is filled with practical wisdom perfected by centuries of practice. This sense of grace and wisdom reaches its full fruition with the festival of Navroze which celebrates the beginning of spring.

 

Langar (SIKHISM)

Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru started the concept of ‘Langar’. Guru Amardass, the third Sikh Guru, institutionalized this concept of sharing and caring. It is a process HOLLA MOHALLA where Sikhs share their honest earnings to provide food for everyone – rich and poor, high and low, bringing them all under one umbrella of equality.

Guru Angad expanded and organized the practice of Langar .

Langar also teaches the etiquette of sitting and eating in a community situation, which has played a great part in upholding the virtue of sameness of all human beings; providing a welcome, secure and protected sanctuary.

Egalitarian theory in Sikhism is known to all: “It is here that all people high or low, rich or poor, male or female, all sit in the same pangat (literally “row” or “line”) to share and enjoy the food together.

Volunteers prep and cook the food, serve it, and wash the dishes!  What an amazing way to show devotion to other people and to God.

Langar (SUFISM)

Use of the word langar is mostly associated with a more fundamental element of Sikh religious traditions, but its origin is from Sufism (Islam) because communal serving of food has been a rich tradition in Indian and Persian Sufism, especially of the Chishti Order.

There is extensive use of free food imagery and metaphor in Sufi writings. Sugar and other sweet foods represent the sweetness of piety and community with God, while salt symbolizes purity and incorruptibility. Through the pronouncement of Bismallah during the bread-making process, the bread is imbued with spiritual power or barakat, which is shared by those who eat the bread.

A Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya used to organize free Kitchen(Langar) which was open to both Hindus and Muslims.

 

Share your Community Kitchens experience- We would love to hear.

Karma to Nirvana (HINDUISM)

“We have to help the hungry as best we can. We have to see that feeding the hungry is no less than the worship of God.”Amma

 

Food has the strength to bring divergent groups together. The breaking of bread has a wider concept as it can break walls and leads to conversation between rivals. Eating with people of different faiths can bring harmony.
In the act of sharing, both the server and the served are elevated and set on the path to Nirvana. Food represents Brahman(Universe). Sharing food is the highest form of Karma.

 

The Moon of Eid (ISLAM)

“The perfect Muslim is not a perfect Muslim, who eats till he is full and leaves his neighbors hungry.”- (Ibn Abbas: Baihaqi)

Ramadan culminates in the feast known as Eïd al-Fitr. During this lunar month of daytime fasting, adherents of Islam enjoy their favorite foods after the sunset call to prayer each day and communities are drawn together in sharing these feast foods known as Iftar. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is zakat, or providing alms to the poor and it brings communities together in a devoted spirit of sharing.

During the Holy month of Ramdan, People share the food which is believed to heighten the feeling of Brotherhood and solidarity.

Pantries (CHRISTIANITY)

They often reach out to wider community through food pantries, soup kitchens, meals for home-bound individuals and international food relief.

 

Soup Kitchen (JUDAISM)

In Jewish tradition, hospitality is one of the essential mitzvot. Abraham, the first patriarch, is extolled for his virtue of hospitality. Whenever the opportunity was presented to him, Abraham gave food and drink even to idolators.

Rabbi Yonah taught “When a poor man visit you at Home, receive him cordially and server him at once, for he may not have eaten for some time. Attend to poor man’s need yourself even if you have many servants.”

Seder is the most important feast on the Jewish calendar. More than any other feast, this one exemplifies the spirit of sharing food in a spiritual manner and it remains an essential reminder of Jewish identity.Even people who are not regular practitioners will come together for this meal because it is such an important part of the Jewish identity.

Sharing one’s table is preferred to giving money to the needy. The meal provides immediate benefit.

 


Volunteering in a community kitchen can be one of the best things, and certainly a way to count your blessings.

Have you ever volunteer in a Community Kitchen? Share your experiences and become an inspiration.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Holy Kitchens.

Reflections From Me

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  • Tis is such beautiful and inspirational post, I love how it can bring people together it is wha we need in this world #mg

    • Thanks MG. Even writing about it gives some much happiness.

  • Back With A Bump

    I’m totally non religious but community kitchens are such a great idea and so important to help local people in need. #mg

    • Hey Fran, Religion is just a medium to connect people based on their beliefs- the whole idea is to sit together and share the food. Thanks for visiting. You must visit one of Community Kitchens to have the experience. I would love to hear your feedback.

  • Thanks Mam. Its good to see you here.

  • What a lot of work you’ve put into this post. The concept of community kitchens is wonderful and they do such a great service. I remember the street children I worked with rushing off for lunch to a nearby langar – the only proper meal they had in the day.

  • Amazing….You brought together religions like they should be……

    • I Loved it Sunaina when you say- “like they should be”. It sounds united.

  • Ilakshee Nath

    I always remember the community feasts during festivals. Somehow they tasted much better than having them alone at home

    • True, they taste just perfect. Welcome to my little space Mam.

  • Kala Ravi

    Upasna, what a lot of research you have put in! I feel truly humbled when I pass by the gurudwara near my house hosting regular langars. This is the most noble form of charity. I never knew about so many other religions also have their versions community kitchens. Excellent post!

    • Thanks a lot Kala. Appreciation from fellow people means a lot. Langars are truly an epitome of Love for humanity. When I sit on floor, raise my hands to seek food- It gives me a feeling as if I am standing in front of Lord, thanking him.