'Langar Day' promotes generosity in students
Anyone heading to Avenue C on Thursday, Nov. 9 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. would have had the pleasure of participating in “Langar Day,” hosted by the Baruch College United Sikh Association. The typical dining room setup was nowhere to be seen; instead the cafeteria was transformed into the cultural likeness of a Sikh Gurdwara temple.
Langar is a term in Sikhism used to describe a free meal that is served daily in any Gurdwara temple that supports the homeless, as well as unifies part of a community through the sharing of a meal. For Baruch’s “Langar Day,” all participants were given not just a free meal, but the opportunity to be truly immersed in Sikh culture.
In order to enter the festivities, students were asked to cover their heads in a Sikh Patka, as well as wash their hands to not only show respect, but to cleanse themselves before their meal.
“It is how we are able to cleanse ourselves inside and outside. Washing your hands cleanses your outside body and food is able to cleanse your inside,” according to Pushpinder Kaur, the association’s secretary.
As students walked into the cafeteria, they were given their meals and the opportunity to eat. They kneeled or sat cross-legged on the cafeteria floor on rugs provided by the association and were able to talk to other students.
The concept behind this arrangement is that there is not one person above or below the others. As Kaur explained, “[On the floor] everyone is equal. We are all on the same level here.”
All of the food given out was in line with the Sikh culture, and represented the idea of sharing the things one person creates with the community. One of the major goals of the United Sikh Association is to provide students with information on Sikhism, as well as share the religion's virtues of community and giving.
Kaur elaborated, stating: “In America it is easy to say, ‘Me first,’ but we try to promote the principle of sharing the things we have.”
With a strong immigrant community, it is important for Baruch Sikhs to maintain their culture in the United States, and create a space where they are not only Americans, but also staying true to their culture and background.
Along with being a fundraiser, the event doubled as a learning experience.
The event also served to help the homeless. Through “Langar Day” and other tabling events at Baruch, the association has a goal of raising approximately $2,000 in order to create care packages and distribute them through the city. This effort is in conjunction with other CUNY Sikh associations.