Okay, I guess that was more than necessary. But, I just wanted to clarify before the digital society suddenly find me a threat to their religion or its policies.
Also, without wasting any more of your time (which you could otherwise smartly spend on Facebook or Twitter), I will get down to my list.
1. The langar was extremely neat compared to a lot of temples where food is served on such a regular basis. I definitely know of temples that are maintained extremely well, cleaned with lizol and sprayed with fragrance before every other meal... But... the first look of a langar was much clearer and neat. People in general looked cleanliness conscious and took responsibility to keep their surrounding clean without assuming that they would insult God, in the process. (I was myself told several times at temples that I must not talk about 'all that' in the God's abode. Anything served there is divine. I don't agree!)
2. Food was simple, less complicated and filling. Unlike the food served at a typical temple, there were just three varieties to eat. They served rotis with kadhi, rice and a sweet. It hardly gave any scope for people to waste food and in addition, was sufficient and sumptuous. I would any day prefer eating a simple meal than something that would involve choosing from 20 varieties, even if that meant doing away with the 'choice' it offers!
3. It was a community lunch. It was actually a community lunch without any 'ifs' and 'buts'. Anyone hungry could simply go eat. The friend who accompanied me to the langar told me how a beggar could sit and eat along with the others. I hadn't really believed it, until I saw it for myself!
4. The food was made by volunteers. It was surprising how so many people readily volunteered to join in that group making the food. They also helped in serving the food. It was really sweet that kids less than 10 years of age were active and helping around, relentlessly!
5. Cleaning was a community event too! Cleaning the plates was being done by well-to-do, rich-looking young and old people. It was the most surprising event in all for me, having hailed from a place where food-waste management was what I always discussed. A couple of months ago, I was arguing how rag-pickers had to use their hands to pick out food-waste and how it was such a 'dirty and disgusting' job. At the langar, I didn't feel so. It was as if they had 'actually' got dignity to that work, by accepting to do it, even if it was once in a while!
So, that's what I think about my first experience of having eaten at a langar. It was a but natural reaction to compare it to what happens at the temple as the contrast was so obviously visible. I am sure that there are temples which are exceptional on several bases. However, right now this is what I felt I must write about them.
~The desire for food is the mother of all inventions, whatsoever~