Hundreds of people headed down to Dortmund Square on Friday 7th October, as locals in Leeds were treated by Sikhs to bowlfuls of delicious free food as part of National Langar Week.
Langar is free vegetarian food which is served in Sikh temple – Gurdwara – kitchens every day.
It is offered by every single Gurdwara in the world, with 10,000 meals provided in the UK per week.
Langar Week is a global campaign which aims to raise awareness of the free food service.
With one million people using food banks in the UK, the Sikh community believe it is not as well known about as it should be.
Jaspal Singh, one of the volunteers, said: “We hand out free meals to the public, regardless of their faith, age or gender.
“The main point we want to promote by taking to the streets is that Langar helps fight hunger.
“There are six million free meals each day in Sikh Temples around the world. That’s to anyone. Everyone is welcome. Not everyone knows about it so that’s why we’re here on the streets, letting people know that if they ever need a free hot meal, they’re always welcome into a Sikh Temple, no strings attached.”
He continued: “It teaches equality as it’s the same food for everyone. It helps break down barriers and connect society. It also promotes compassion and the volunteers here are doing this selflessly.
“It’s going brilliantly. A lot of people are asking questions. Tummies are rumbling. Homeless people have been coming along. We have been telling them it’s not a one-off, you can come in any day and get something to eat.”
Ripaljeet Kaur, one of the organisers, said: “It’s been busy. We ran out of the takeaway boxes and food after an hour. We had to get more food and takeaway boxes in. We’ve seen more new volunteers, too.”
Vegetarian food is available at the temple from morning until evening. Those who can afford it are encouraged to bring offerings, from milk to packs of sugar, and volunteers are needed to help cook the food and wash up afterwards, but there is no obligation.
The only rules visitors must observe are to remove their shoes, cover their heads with the head scarves that are provided and wash their hands. They are also banned from bringing into the temple any alcohol or drugs.