“In our tradition, serving spiritual seekers and monks has always been of utmost importance. This can be a path in itself. The most beautiful expression of this is the Annadanam – the sacred offering of food.”
In Hinduism ‘Annadanam’ is considered to be a ‘Mahadanam’ or the best offering that one can make to earn merit for oneself. Annadanam is considered the pinnacle of all penance ever giving food for the needy will skyrocket one’s deed score to a whole new level.
The Prasadam (food) is served by volunteer devotees in an atmosphere of prayer for the Universal peace and Welfare where each visitor is served as though being served to God.
Guru Kaa Langar in Sikhism
In Sikhism, a Langar is the community kitchen of a Gurdwara, which serves meals to all free of charge, regardless of religion, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. People sit on the floor and eat together, and the kitchen is maintained and serviced by Sikh community volunteers. The meals served at a Langar are always vegetarian.
The roots of such community kitchen and volunteer-run charitable feeding is very old in Indian tradition; for example: Hindu temples of the Gupta Empire era had attached kitchen and almshouse called Dharma-shala or Dharma-Sattra to feed the travelers and poor for free, or whatever donation they may leave.
These community kitchens and rest houses are evidenced in epigraphical evidence, and in some cases referred to as Satram (for example, Annasya Satram), choultry, or Chathram in parts of India.
Sikh historian Kapur Singh refers Langar as an Aryan institution.
The concept of Langar or free food, as a means to create equality among society, is unique to Sikhism and owes its origins to Guru Nanak.
Sikh concept of Langar was designed to be upheld among all people, regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender, or social status and was an innovative charity and symbol of equality introduced into Sikhism by its founder, Guru Nanak around 1500 CE in North Indian state of Punjab.