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The Curse Of Prosperity


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The Curse of Prosperity


After industry and agriculture in Punjab, it seems even the institution of community kitchen or langar in gurdwaras - started by the first Sikh master and a symbol of equality among all sections of the society - can't do without migrant labour.

The waning interest among Sikhs in the tradition of sewa (volunteer service) is forcing gurdwaras to hire this workforce to run langars on special days like gurpurabs.

Though the community takes great pride in the institution of langar and tradition of sewa, the lack of interest among devotees to perform sewa was amply apparent during the birth anniversary celebrations of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, at Jalandhar, Punjab, this year.

At several gurdwaras, especially in urban areas, unlike the earlier days when devotees would rush to gurdwaras to pay obeisance and get busy helping in the langar, on Thursday, one could only see hired labour preparing langar or doing other related work.

At Gurdwara Dewan Asthaan, migrants had been hired for preparing chapattis while the local Sikhs were supervising them and distributing langar.

At the historical gurdwara of the Sixth Sikh Guru in the Hadiabad locality of Phagwara, the in-charge of the langar had to hire three migrants for the preparations and five women for preparing chapattis.

''Lack of volunteers forced me to engage three daily wagers for the work. We get people only for serving langar,'' said Nirmal Singh who supervises the community kitchen.

''Earlier local Sikh women would participate with great devotion in rolling out chapattis and would offer help in preparing vegetables and dal, but now very few come forward,'' he rued.

''I am a rickshaw-puller and have been hired for working in the langar,'' said Jagdish, a migrant from Bihar busy at work, sporting a saffron head scarf.

''It is not like any other job, we are working with devotion,'' stressed Dular Chand, his co-worker.

They also joined young Sikh volunteers in serving langar. ''We are doing this on our own,'' added Jagdish.

''The participation of volunteers, especially women, is falling every year and is confined to cutting vegetables and cleaning dals. The rest of the work is done entirely by this army of hired men and women. We have engaged the services of 20 persons for preparing chapattis as the devotees are not keen on doing it,'' said Atam Parkash Singh, president of cash-rich Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Model Town, Jalandhar.

However, cleaning of utensils, keeping shoes in the Jorra Khana is still done by volunteers.

Seeing a paradox of sorts in the situation, Charanjiv Singh Lalli, who volunteers at Guru Nanak Mission Gurdwara, Jalandhar, said, ''Donations are increasing and magnificent buildings are being built, but the spirit of sewa, signifying humility and dedication, is clearly decreasing among Sikhs.''

[Courtesy: Times of India]


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