If you are hungry, get to know the inside of Dashmesh Gurdwara Culture Center, which serves food to thousands of people every day in Calgary. Donation drives arranged by them are even helping local community donation centers.
Langar is a tradition started by Guru Nanak Dev in the 1480s and is still being continued by Sikhs all over the globe. ‘’In Calgary’s Northeast, more than 2,000 people are being served free and fresh food on weekdays and numbers goes up to around 5,000 on weekends,’’ says Atma Singh, manager of community kitchen at Dashmesh Gurdwara Culture Center. Singh spoke in Punjabi which was translated.
‘’On special occasions, like new year or birth anniversary of Sikh Gurus, numbers can jump to 15,000’’.
Preparation begins as early as 4 a.m. and food is cooked three times in a day. Managers of Langar make sure every meal is served fresh with the help of community volunteers. There are only 15-20 permanent members of Gurdwara while more than 50 volunteers handle the community kitchen on a regular day.
About 300 kilograms of flour is used daily to prepare rotis (tortillas), which is served along with two curries and a dessert.
“Tea is unlimited here,’’ added Atma.
Raw materials and food are either donated directly by the community or they are brought with the money collected through chadahwa (donations) in Gurdwara Sahib.
The Gurdwara association runs a food bank for the distribution of hampers among the needy, with 200-300 being given out daily on average. It is open for all, but the highest number of beneficiaries are international students.
“I had … my two meals a day in Gurdwara Sahib, as I didn’t have any money to buy any groceries or any food,” said Sukhdeep Kaur, an international student in Calgary. She was unemployed in Calgary for four months.
Surplus groceries are donated to regional food banks or given to people in need for a nominal price. The Dashmesh Culture Center has also been part of a regional food drive recently in which they donated 5,687 pounds of non-perishable food items to Airdrie Food Bank.