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India is about 1/3 the size of the United States, India is the seventh largest country in the world, the second most populous country in the world. ● ● India is the largest democracy in the world. ● ● The Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher Festival) is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in India every 12 years. In 2001, 60 million people attended, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. The mass of people was photographed from space by a satellite. ● ● To avoid polluting the elements (fire, earth, water, air), followers of Zoroastrianism in India don’t bury their dead, but instead leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence” for the vultures to pick clean. ● ● India has one of the world’s highest rates of abortion. ● ● Most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. ● ● Cows are considered one of humankind’s seven mothers because they offer milk as does one’s natural mother. ● ● Dancing is one of India’s most highly developed arts and was an integral part of worship in the inner shrines of every temple. It is notable for its expressive hand movements. ● ● Many Indian wives will never say their husband’s name aloud, as it is a sign of disrespect. When addressing him, the wife will use several indirect references, such as “ji” or “look here” or “hello,” or even refer to him as the father of her child. ● ● The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when India gained independence, a Buddhist dharma chakra, or wheel of life, replaced the spinning wheel. ● ● ● ● ● The temples of Khajuraho are famous for their erotic sculptures and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Scholars still debate the purpose of such explicit portrayals of sexual intercourse, which sometimes involve animals. ● ● The earliest cotton in the world was spun and woven in India. ● ● The Himalayas—from the Sanskrit hima, meaning “snow,” and alaya, meaning “abode”—are found in the north of India. They extend 1,500 miles and are slowly growing taller, by almost an inch (2.5 cm) a year. Several ancient Indian monasteries are found nestled in the grandeur of these mountains. ● ● With 150,000 post offices, India has the largest postal network in the world. ● ● The Bengal tiger is India’s national animal. ● ● Alexander the Great of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) was one of the first important figures to bring India into contact with the West. After his death, a link between Europe and the East would not be restored until Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) landed in Calicut, India, in 1498. ● ● The British Raj, or British rule, lasted from 1858 to 1947 (although they had a strong presence in India since the 1700s). British influence is still seen in Indian architecture, education system, transportation, and politics. ● ● Every major world religion is represented in India. Additionally, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all originated in India. ● ● India has the world’s largest movie industry, based in the city of Mumbai (known as the “City of Dreams”). The B in “Bollywood” comes from Bombay, the former name for Mumbai. Almost all Bollywood movies are musicals. ● ● Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is known around the world as Mahatma, which is an honorific title meaning “Great Soul” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. ● ● ● ● ● The lotus is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. ● The Bahá'í house of worship in Delhi, known as the “Lotus Temple,” is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 gigantic “petals” that are covered in marble. ● ● The banyan, or Indian fig tree, is considered a symbol of immortality and is mentioned in many Indian myths and legends. This self-renewing plant is India’s national tree. ● ● Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness. ● ● The name “India” derives from the River Indus, which most likely is derived from the Sanskrit sindhu, meaning “river.” The official Sanskrit name of India is Bharat, after the legendary king in the epicMahabharata. ● ● Indians made significant contributions to calculus, trigonometry, and algebra. The decimal system was invented in India in 100 B.C. The concept of zero as a number is also attributed to India. ● ● The national fruit of India is the mango. The national bird is the peacock, which was initially bred for food. ● ● Hindi and English are the official languages of India. The government also recognizes 17 other languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). Apart from these languages, about 1,652 dialects are spoken in the country. ● ● India has the world’s third largest road network at 1.9 million miles. It also has the world’s second largest rail network, which is the world’s largest civilian employer. ● ● Bathing in the Ganges in particular is thought to take away a person’s sins. It is not unusual to spread a loved one’s ashes in the Ganges. ● ● Most Indians rinse their hands, legs, and face before eating a meal. ● ● It is traditional to wear white, not black, to a funeral in India. Widows will often wear white in contrast to the colorful clothes of married or single women. ● ● India is the world’s largest tea producer, and tea (chai) is its most popular beverage. ● ● The Taj Mahal (“crown palace”) was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). Made of marble it has intricate workmanship. It took 22,000 workmen 22 years to complete it. ● ● The first and greatest civilization in ancient India developed around the valley of the Indus River (now Pakistan) around 3000 B.C. Called the Indus Valley civilization, this early empire was larger than any other empire, including Egypt and Mesopotamia. ● ● After the great Indus Civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C., groups of Indo-Europeans called Aryans (“noble ones”) traveled to northwest India and reigned during what is called the Vedic age. The mingling of ideas from the Aryan and Indus Valley religions formed the basis of Hinduism, and the gods Shiva, Kali, and Brahma all have their roots in Aryan civilization. The Aryans also recorded the Vedas, the first Hindu scriptures, and introduced a caste system based on ethnicity and occupation. ● ● Chandragupta Maurya (340-290 B.C.), a leader in India who established the Mauryan Empire (321-185 B.C.), was guarded by a band of women on horseback. ● Sanskrit is the mother of all the European ● languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software reported in Forbes magazine, ● July 1987. ● Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ●
The Power of Devotion

For a moment, if one pushes the religious fact aside, It is no ordinary feat to serve a meal to thousands of people in a day and that too round-the-clock.

Forty to fifty thousand people, on an average, partake of langar every day at Harmandar Sahib.

"On Sundays, festival days and Masya, the number exceeds 1 lakh," says Jathedar Harpinder Singh, Who is in charge of the langar.

Serving such a huge gathering is not an easy task. But, the devotion and selfless service of the Sewadars makes the job simple.

We have 300 permanent sewadars who work at the langar. They knead dough, cook food, serve people and perform a number of other jobs. Also, there are a good number of volunteers, both men and women, who work in kitchen and langar hall.
They also wash and wipe the utensils. "

"In the washing hall we have four sewadars to supervise the work," adds Harpinder Singh.

Of course, an elaborate arrangement is in place to cook and serve food at such a large scale.

The langar at Harmandar Sahib is prepared in two kitchens, which have 11 hot plates (tawi), several burners, machines for sieving and kneading dough and several other utensils.


At one tawi, 15 people work at a time. It is a chain process - some make balls of dough, others roll rotis, a few put them on the tawi and rest cook
And collect them.

It is all done so meticulously that one is surprised to see that on one hot plate, in just two hours, over 20 kg of flour is used to make rotis. The kitchen also has a roti-making machine, which was donated by a Lebanon-based devotee.

The machine is, however, used only on days that are likely to witness huge crowds.

The machine can make rotis of 20-kg flour in just half-an-hour. To get the flour, there are two machines in the basement of the langar hall and another that kneads one quintal of flour in just  Five minutes. It is this fine team of man and Machine that makes it possible for the Gurdwara to provide 24-hour langar on all days.

But, what about putting together the raw material?

"About 50-quintal wheat, 18-quintal daal, 14-quintal rice and seven quintal milk is the daily consumption in the langar kitchen. We have utensils that can store up to seven quintal of cooked daal and kheer at a time," says assistant in-charge Kanwaljeet Singh.

Items needed in langar are bought in huge quantities from Delhi . The purchase mainly includes pulses, while other every day requirements are met from the local market. A stock of all items is Maintained for two months, he adds.

"Desi Ghee comes from Verka Milk Plant in the city.Also, the devotees make donations. In a day we receive, over eight quintals of sugar and seven quintals of dal. Often, people also donate money in langar funds.
For instance, we recently received a donation of Rs 2 lakh from a devotee who wanted to bear all Langar expenses for a day ," says in-charge Harpinder Singh.

"Besides dal-roti, kheer and karah prasad is Prepared on alternate days. On an average, seven Quintals of milk and an equal quantity of rice is Needed to prepare kheer. On festive occasions, We also distribute jalebis.

Every day over 100 gas cylinders are needed to fuel the kitchen. For making tea, 6 quintals of sugar and 20 kg of tea leaf are consumed," adds Kanwaljeet.


But, all this wouldn't have been possible without the grace of Waheguru: "Loh langar tapde rahin" (may the hot plates of the langar remain ever in service) are the words that every devotee says in his prayers at the gurdwara.
At a time, over 3,000 people are served on the two Floors of the hall. Everyone is welcome at the darbar to share the meal, With no distinction of caste or religion.

The Sikh practice of 'Guru ka langar' was strengthened by Guru Amar Das, the third Sikh guru. Even Emperor Akbar, It is said, had to take langar with the common people
before he could meet Guru Amar Das. Langar or community kitchen was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour,
creed, age, gender or social status.


In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar also aimed to express the ethics of sharing and oneness of all humankind.

 


On the other hand, following the principle of division of labour, the sewadars in the hall make sure that sangat gets the complete meal, from pickle to rice and dal. The whole thing is highly organised - from arranging the material to cooking and then serving.

After eating, the utensils are collected in one part of the hall in huge bins from where they are taken away for washing. Once cleaned, the dishes are quickly but neatly stacked in huge, wheeled storage bins, ready to be used again for the next sitting. 

But, all this wouldn't have been possible without the grace of Waheguru: "Loh langar tapde rahin" (may the hot plates of the langar remain ever in service) are the words that every devotee says in his prayers at the gurdwara. At a time, over 3,000 people are served on the two Floors of the hall. Everyone is welcome at the darbar to share the meal, With no distinction of caste or religion.

The Sikh practice of 'Guru ka langar' was strengthened by Guru Amar Das, the third Sikh guru. Even Emperor Akbar, It is said, had to take langar with the common people before he could meet Guru Amar Das. Langar or community kitchen was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status.



Aashima Seth Captured on film the Belgian film makers, Valerie Berteau and Philippe Witjes, and were so impressed with the langar at the Darbar Sahib that they made a documentary film on it.

Entitled Golden Kitchen, the film has impressed audiences at numerous film festivals in Europe. On June 6 this year, it was adjudged 'Outstanding' at the Festival of Short Films organised at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Critics have praised the film for bringing out the beauty of what is for western audiences "an endeavour that is remarkable in scale, the clockwork efficiency with which the kitchen is organised and the fact that all the people manning the kitchen are volunteers who are inspired to undertake the heavy labour by their religious convictions."

IN THE SERVICE around 3,000 people are served meals at a go. It wouldn't be possible without sewadars, who look for no return except Wahegurus blessings.

 

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