最新訊息

Sikh Charity Kitchen: With love for everyone, vegetarianism is love for the Earth

2019-11-25

Sikhism, established at the end of the 15th century, is the world’s 6th largest religion. This year, 2019, is the 550th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Guru Nanak. To remember this great teacher, and at the same time, demonstrate his spirit of promoting charity and equality, on November 16, 2019, at the Museum of World Religions’ [世界宗教博物館生命和平多元空間], the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) hosted Taiwan’s first “World Religious Culture Experience: Silk Charity Kitchen (Sikh Langar)” activity, which was open to the public.

“Langar” is Punjabi for “kitchen”. The importance of this event lies in its offering of vegetarian food to the public, whatever their gender, race, religion, identity, or nationality. In the Langar there are no differences: everyone sits down and eats together. This event not only symbolizes charity, but also the practice of equality in the teachings of Sikhism. Offering the service of food and drink, in the eyes of Sikhism, is also a sign of honor. 

The event began at 10:30 with the unveiling of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. Accompanied by singers and musical instruments, Sikh representatives carried the book into the Museum. In Sikhism, the book is the embodiment of the Guru and is considered a living Guru, to be treated with respect. Therefore, after the book was placed inside, it was draped with exquisite fabrics to symbolize clothing. According to Sikh beliefs, water represents the mother, and earth, the father, while the air and the surrounding environment represent the guru. Thus, during the prayer process, believers hold a fly whisk and gently wave it from side to side, symbolizing the giving of attention to the environment and the soul at that moment.

In the Sikh code, men must not cut their hair. When in public, they must keep it covered with a dastar (a turban). Although women are not required to bind up their hair, they must wear a veil or headscarf. To comply with Sikh teachings, those who participate in the charity kitchen are allowed to enter the venue, and the Sikh headscarf experience is also available to them. After a series of commemorations of the holy book and recitations of poetry, the volunteers who are present will distribute the sacred prayer dessert, Prasad, among the participants. Prasad is made from whole wheat, ghee, and sugar, and its sweetness enables participants to feel the beauty of the blessings of the spirit.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao, abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society, and the Founder of the Museum of World Religions, and Hsieh Cheng-ta, deputy mayor of New Taipei City, Deputy Director of the Indian Association of Taipei Chia Shu-ming, and Kish Harkishin, the Director of the Taiwan Contract Bridge Association, also attended this grand event, the first of its kind in Taiwan. The Master shared stories of his relationship with Sikhism, and told of his experiences of Sikh Langars in the past, saying that there is neither you nor I,  and everyone sits down together, enabling everyone to feel the spirit of the “equality of humanity”. He also noted that the Sikh Langar’s concepts and activities of “Vegetarian Food Environmentalism” are also part of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society’s response to global warming and its program of “Loving the Earth, Loving Peace”, and hoped that everyone would continue to promote vegetarian food and environmental protection and work together to protect our Mother Earth.

Representing New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi, Deputy Mayor Hsieh Cheng-ta said that today, by experiencing the meal, the charity kitchen, and the headscarf, everyone participating would have a better understanding of Sikh culture. He added that the Museum of World Religions has brought together different religious cultures with this event, which makes it especially significant. Indian representatives Chia Shu-ming and Kish Harkishin also said that the large-scale Langar at the Museum was held to commemorate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth, which is especially appropriate since they both value mutual respect and tolerance, and their philosophies echo each other. It is particularly worth mentioning that the tableware used at the event was made from fallen leaves and is biodegradable. The participants thus used tableware composed of environmentally friendly materials while enjoying a variety of vegetarian dishes, actions that realize the concept of taking practical action to show love of the earth. The leaf plate may even be brought home and reused.

With global warming and the severe destruction of the natural environment, natural disasters, man-made disasters, and wars are frequent. Religion plays an important role in comforting and educating people. The Sikh Langar’s vegetarianism and cherishing of good food expresses a deep commitment to stewardship of the Earth’s resources and the importance of environmental protection. Charity feeding and Sikhism’s other practices and ideas of life spread the concept of peace. This echoes the philosophy that underlies the creation of the Museum of World Religions: “Respect each belief, tolerate different cultures and ethnicities, love every living thing”. As the Master said, “the world is beautiful because of differences, and it is harmonious because of communication.” We hope that the Museum can provide a platform for religious exchanges that supports a wide range of religious and cultural activities. This will enable peoples of differing nationalities to understand one another, while recognizing the importance of love and peace and of building friendships that are founded on friendship and mutual interdependence and the idea that the Earth is one family.

Chinese  中文

Back Home