Protesting TN farmers don't go hungry, thanks to gurudwara langar
Farmers from Tamil Nadu have been demanding a loan waiver and drought-relief package at Delhi's Jantar Mantar for over 100 days. So far the farmers haven't found much attention from the political class. They have however, found an ally in the selfless sewadaars (volunteers) of the city's historic Bangla Sahib Gurudwara who ensure the farmers don't go hungry.
On 14 March, Tamil Nadu's farmers started the 'skull protest' -with the skulls of farmers who committed suicide at Jantar Mantar. The state has witnessed 60% deficit in rainfall as part of its worst drought in 140 years. Farmers have been demanding a Rs. 40,000cr drought relief package, farm loan waiver and more. On 1 April, the Centre approved a package of Rs. 2,014cr.
Langar or free kitchen is the embodiment of the Sikh tenet of service. Gurudwaras provide langar to people regardless of religion, caste, color, age, gender or social status. The Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is among the holiest places of worship for Sikhs and is associated with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan. Langar is served 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. The gurudwara feeds around 10,000 pilgrims daily.
"These protesters at Jantar Mantar come from far places. Neither do they know the language nor where to go to eat. So we deliver langar food twice a day to them," said Manjit Singh, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC). "We would have provided them accommodation too but they haven't asked for that service yet," Singh added.
"We initially took the same food for the farmers but soon realized they prefer rice over chapatis. So now we send some rice too," Singh said. He said "this is Guru ka Langar and we don't discriminate." He clarified that some consider the langar service as the gurudwara's allegiance towards the protest. But "we are just serving those who seek Guru's help," Singh said.
"Our families are hungry back home and we are fighting for our survival here. You volunteers are godsend," said R Perumal, one of the leaders of the Tamil Farmers Association with folded hands.