My Visit to the Golden Temple
I’ve wanted to visit the Golden Temple ever since I read about it in my history books. It was the last summer when I finally got the chance to visit the holy city of Amritsar with my father. We visited the temple in the night to avoid the scorching heat, for which, I will always be grateful. The temple looks lustrous in the dark.
It was around 10 pm when I set my eyes on the Golden Temple for the first time, a memory I can never forget. I was awestruck by the beauty of the temple. All I wanted to do was sit by the Amrit Sarovar (holy lake surrounding the temple) and feel the calmness. It felt like the temple had hypnotized the people, Amrit Sarovar, and sky and had turned them all in shades of golden. It only became more tranquil with every passing minute of that one hour that I spent by the lakeside.
A devotee informed my father that the door of the temple reopens for darshan (prayer) at 2:30 am.
I didn’t mind waiting for 2 hours, but I needed food to appease my hunger.
“Papa, can we go out and eat something? I am hungry. We had our dinner also so early today”.
“Oh! Yes, I am starving too. Let’s go.”
Saying this, he started walking towards the left direction of the temple premises. “Papa, the exit gate is on the right. Where are we going?”
I kept following him.
Selfless service is the best service
After a few minutes, I found myself in a big hall, where a large number of people were sitting there in rows eating food. It took me only a second to realize that I was standing in the langar hall (dining area in a Gurudwara where food gets served to people). I had been to many Gurudwaras but never got a chance to eat in langar or do Seva (volunteer in the kitchen or dining area).
I asked my father so many questions while waiting for our turn. He could answer most of them, but I wanted to know more. I went up to a middle-aged man wearing a yellow turban (Sikh men have a tradition to wear a turban to cover their head) who was taking care of the services in the hall. He was instructing another volunteer to serve the rice in the last row. As he was about to take the bowl of Karrah prasad (a sweet made of wheat flour, unsalted butter, and sugar) to get it refilled from the kitchen, I intervened.
“What if there is no volunteer present to cook and serve?” I directly popped up the question.
The man looked at me and gave me an enthusiastic smile.
"The langar is a 24 hours community kitchen, which serves free food to about a lac people every day. There are always enough volunteers who help in cooking and serving the food".
“I am not a Sikh. Can I still eat here?”, I asked him hesitatingly. I knew we all could eat there. I just wanted to know what all communities were not allowed to eat there, and therefore I framed my question in such a manner.
“We believe in serving people, not any particular community.”
This line has stuck with me until even today. It made the message crystal clear.
Sometimes it’s all about the smallest contributions
I joined back with my father in the queue, feeling amazed at the selflessness of the people.
“When was the last time I did something so unselfishly?”, I thought to myself.
I went to the kitchen and helped in peeling the potatoes. Words won’t be enough to explain how good I felt about me. I decided to take the volunteer in me back home. I promised myself to help the needy as much as possible. Surprisingly, I enjoyed my food a lot after making my contribution, no matter how little it was.
Written by: Anukrati Dosi
Anukrati is a travel and hotel blogger and the author of the blog www.bulbulonthewing.com. A total hodophile, she spends her free time seeing as much of the world as she can. She has travelled to 10 countries so far. Being an avid reader and researcher, she also designs customized travel itineraries professionally.