Newsworthy Sikhism

Homeless Britons are turning to the Sikh community for food

Homeless people in the UK are getting free meals thanks to a centuries-old Sikh tradition. Why, asks Rajeev Gupta.

“We come here because we get food… A hot meal. It’s a luxury for me.” John Davidson is 55 and homeless. He is one of 250 people who have just received a hand-out of hot soup, drinks, chocolate bars and other supplies from the Sikh Welfare and Awareness Team van parked up on the Strand in central London on a cold Sunday evening. The Swat team, as they’re known, park at the same spot every week so a group of volunteers from the Sikh community can hand out vital supplies. Homeless people, who overwhelmingly are not Sikh, patiently wait in line to be served.

S.W.A.T. Volunteers distributing food
S.W.A.T. Volunteers distributing food

For the volunteers handing out food here, this is more than just good charitable work. For them this is a religious duty enshrined by the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, over 500 years ago. At a time of deep division by caste and religious infighting between Hindus and Muslims in India, Guru Nanak called for equality for all and set forward the concept of Langar – a kitchen where donated produce, prepared into wholesome vegetarian curry by volunteers, is freely served to the community on a daily basis.

Today, thousands of free Langar meals are served every day in Sikh temples throughout the UK. The Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall, thought to be the biggest Sikh temple outside of India, says it alone serves 5,000 meals on weekdays and 10,000 meals on weekends. Every Sikh has the duty to carry out Seva, or selfless service, says Surinder Singh Purewal, a senior member of the temple management team. “It means we’re never short of donations or volunteers to help prepare the Langar.”

S.W.A.T. Volunteers
S.W.A.T. Volunteers

In recent times the Langar meal has acted as a barometer for the state of the economy. After the 2008 recession many Sikh temples reported a surge in the numbers of non-Sikhs coming in for the free Langar meals. It’s now common to see non-Sikhs inside the temple, Purewal says: “We don’t mind it. As long as people show respect, are not intoxicated and cover their heads in line with our traditions, then everyone is welcome.”

The Swat team say they decided to take the concept of Langar outside its traditional setting in temples and out onto the streets when they saw a growing homelessness problem in London. Randeep Singh who founded SWAT says: “When you go to the temple, what’s the message? The message is to help others, help your neighbours. That’s what we are doing.”

Source : BBC


Volunteers at Gurudwara preparing langar
Volunteers at Gurudwara preparing langar
The men sleeping under the M4
S.W.A.T. Volunteers Helping Homeless Men sleeping under the bridge



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  • good to see this but i hope we are not forcing anyone to change the religion to get food. then what difference will be there between THEM(U KNOW who i am talking about) and us..but still gr8 job ..please feed the poor. MOTHER TERESA said ” if u can’t feed least trying feeding one”. PEACE..

    • They are distributing food for free and Sikhs do not preach their religion to others to convert. Langars in gurudwaras have been going on for almost 500 years. Golden Temple alone in Amritsar feeds 100,000 people a day without trying to convert a single person.

      It is one of the first and foremost mistake that some people make to compare Abrahamic religions and their malicious intent behind every action with the dharmic faiths and their seva. Mother Teresa was a known fraud and is considered an angel of death around the world. So what she said and what she did are polls apart and she is irrelevant here because her actions were to directly convert others through deception and misery.

  • Really good work undertaken by the Sikh community without thinking anything in return.

  • With our sustained – Offcourse Combined – efforts Whole of the world Will need our Help in Future !!! Let us make it FAST !!!!!

  • Our brothers and sisters are great..Every one of them. Thanks to the Sikh community.

  • The Sikhs, unlike the pathetic, self serving, world domination hyhypocrite Christians and Muslims, do NOT proselytize . They give away the food and ask for nothing back, only to be srabbed in the back later by Evil Western Religion colonialists who want nothing but to destroy the other so they can win recruits for their sick, fake, cruel god.
    it doesn’t surprise me that Christians and Muslims think suspiciously like that about Sikhs. They are projecting their own evil religions on others.
    (Btw, I am mot a Sikh, so spare me the religious attacks. I just know what I clearly see to be true). Enough of Christians, and Especially Muslims, who are the most hateful, criticizing other great religions

  • This religion was made to protect one known religion in India called as Hindus. Unfortunately these Hindu themselves butchered ablaze and raped Sikhs and branded them as terrorists. Now even in their own country they feel unsafe and leaving their religion and joining Christianity and Scientology. Young teenagers Sikhs often ask their parents Why our Guru’ protect these Hindus when we were to be butchered and mistreated by these Hindus.

    • Not a single Hindu bears any ill will towards a Sikh. The 1984 and preceding events were as much a fault of some Sikhs, who were misguided by anti-Indian interests, and turned to terrorism, and the Govt. of India, which when had large hindu representation was not acting in the lines of religion but sovereignity. Can you deny the terrorists acts carried out by Khalistani terrorists before the shameful purges started by the Govt. Even in 1984 riots, it was a single party members that carried out the brutality, not Hindus.

      However, the Sikhs as a whole is very much respected community in India and except some Sardarji jokes, I have not seen in the 33 years of my life any instance or heard of any instance when Sikhs were mistreated or disrespected by any Hindu at all.

  • Hindus dont have any enemity with Sikhs,I,as s Hindu,respect my Sikh brothers and sisters, sometimes some untoward incidents happen because of a few stupid people,let hindus and Sikhs live in harmony.

  • Paramveer Singh, Sikhi was not made to protect Hindus, that’s a fundamental mistake.
    Sikhi was started by Guru Nanak because he didn’t believe in the rituals and practices of Hindus (and Muslims), and instead wanted to follow what made sense to him – seeing the goodness in all, equality, humanitarianism.
    Later, Sikhi and the rest of India came under attack, and the subsequent Gurus militarised the Sikh way of life, to protect the Sikhs, and the Hindus and Muslims of India, from invaders.