Every year, thousands of tourists line up to see the Taj Mahal in India, which is the most popular tourist destination in the country. In Amritsar, India, a Golden Temple serves 100,000 meals to the hungry every day, which is more people than the Taj Mahal attracts in a day.
The Sikhs believe the langar is a symbol of equality and not just a place for people to come eat for free. The kitchen needs an extensive number of ingredients each day, including 12,000 kilos of flour and 13,000 kilos of lentils. Most of the food is paid for up to two years in advance through donations.
At the langar, everyone gets a free hot meal regardless of their socioeconomic status or their religion. There are 450 people running the kitchen with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Over 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls are washed each day.
“There are only three things in our religion,” says a Sikh volunteer from California. “Chant the name of God, sing religious hymns and volunteer. I work as long as my legs allow me to stand.”
About 15 percent of the people in India are undernourished and 194 million people are hungry. This means a quarter of the undernourished people in the world belong to India. Also, India’s population is one of the fastest-growing populations in the world; it will one day become the most populous country.
More than 3,000 children in India die every day from illnesses related to poor nutrition. Hunger in India remains an alarming issue due to rising food prices and available agricultural land. While food grain production is increasing, it hasn’t been sufficient enough to feed the entire population.
Volunteering goes beyond the Golden Temple: donations from around the world help reduce hunger for thousands of people in India. Akshaya Patra, an NGO in India, feeds 1.4 million schoolchildren every day.
India hosts a large number of mega kitchens that feed people all over the country. Despite the rapidly growing population, the percentage of people who are undernourished and hungry is declining.
– Donald Gering