These unwritten rules, edicts and decrees are important guidelines to observe in order to have the best possible experience in Gur ka Langar, the free kitchen and dining hall of the Sikh gurdwara. Whether you enjoy a meal from the guru's free kitchen or participate in langar seva such as food preparation, service or cleanup, it is essential to follow the unspoken protocol of langar. Though not spelled out specifically, excepting decrees and edicts, langar rules and protocol are based on bibek tradition and conscious principles and practical interpretation of the Sikh code of conduct. Langar guidelines are promoted in the interest of maintaining both physical and spiritual health, to prevent jooth (passing of germs or other impurities and contaminates) and to reduce the affect of ego on the soul:
- Leave street shoes outside.
- Cover hair when preparing, serving or eating food or participating in cleanup to keep hair out of food and food out of hair.
- Wash hands before preparing, serving, and before and after eating langar or when taking seconds (unless another serves you).
- Never taste food or put hand in mouth during preparation, cooking, serving or cleanup of langar.
- Take care to keep clean and dirty dishes separated during food preparation, service and cleanup. Never let a serving spoon or other utensil touch the mouth or plate of anyone who has been eating. Should any serving utensil come in contact with the mouth, dirty hands or plate, it is to be washed before again touching food which is being cooked or served. Wash and immediately dry any iron sarbloh cookware utensils to prevent rust.
- Rinse fruits, vegetables, beans and rice before preparation and cooking. Only vegetarian food is suitable in the preparation of langar. Meat including the flesh of fish and fowl, are not allowed for use in langar. Alcohol is not permitted for cooking or drinking in langar.
- No food fights! Partaking of langar and participating in langar seva is a sacred experience. Focus thoughts on the divine and observe reverence when preparing food, and performing other langar seva and while eating.
- Langar is a nurturing experience which nourishes body and soul while starving the ego. Third Guru Amar Das decreed that all diners sit side by side on the floor together without regard to rank, caste, color, creed. However the code of conduct states that a baptized or initiated Sikh may not eat food or leftovers from the dish one who is uninitiated or who has committed a breach of conduct. An edict issued in 1998 from Akal Takhat stipulates that tables and chairs are not allowed in langar except for use by the disabled.
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