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Langar for Hurricane Victims

United Sikhs' assistance to hurricane Katrina victims

A U.S.-based organisation has set up a community kitchen to serve hot meals

CHANDIGARH: Americans have been introduced to the glorious tradition of "langar" (community kitchen) in the wake of the misery caused by the Katrina hurricane. The "langar" was started in Punjab by Sikh Gurus about 500 years ago to provide cooked food through a community kitchen, regardless of status, nationality, caste, colour or creed.

A U.S.-based organisation, the `United Sikhs', set up "langar" from Monday onwards, to serve hot meals to those displaced in the hurricane in New Orleans.

It was also a unique opportunity for the Sikhs to help the Americans, especially after they became targets of hate crimes following the September 11, 2001, terrorist strike at the World Trade Center in New York.

The director of `United Sikhs', Gurvinder Singh, and president of the body managing the New Orleans Gurdwara, Sumir Kaur, said in a statement from their base camp in Baton Rouge that while food had arrived over the weekend, the organisation's team had found a demand for hot meals. A truck full of supplies from Houston had been arranged for this purpose.

Volunteers from Texas, New Jersey, New York and Kansas joined other members at the base camp, while more "sewadars" (volunteers) from California and Malaysia were expected to arrive in a few days.

The Unification Church had provided access to their kitchen facilities, where sewadars from United Sikhs and the local community would prepare and serve the langar, Ms. Kaur was quoted as saying.

"We also hope to distribute langar at the refugee centres in Houston from next week. We have been informed that it will be some time before the refugees in the centres can be moved to proper homes where they could cook their own meals. Therefore, we will supply daily langar for at least two weeks and, if necessary, longer," the statement added.

While visiting refugee centres in New Orleans, the volunteers were requested to supply blankets, sheets, pillows and towels for 6,000 refugees. Sikhs who owned trucks had offered to transport the supplies.

The organisation has projected a requirement of at least $ 100,000 to meet expenses. "We call upon the public, especially the Sikh sangat congregating at Gurdwaras, to launch donation drives and send us funds so that we may buy and transport the supplies from Houston," it said. Details related to making donations were available on the internet

The Sikh community's gesture is appreciated all the more since its shrine along with the holy Guru Granth Sahib in New Orleans is still submerged. Ms. Sumir Kaur said, "We have appealed to President Bush and our local Congressman, Bobby Jindal, to help us remove the Sikh scriptures from the Gurdwara."

Sikh organisations had organised similar "langar" services when a cyclone lashed coastal Orissa, an earthquake rocked the Bhuj region in Gujarat, during a drought in Rajasthan and when the tsunami deluged the Andaman and Nicobar islands and the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.


Sikhs in US helping Katrina victims:-

Amritsar | September 06, 2005 5:21:19 PM IST
Sikhs living in the United States have extended a helping hand to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In a gesture unheard of in the West, the Sikhs have thronged their shrines to pray for the wellbeing of Katrina victims and have launched a fund raising campaign in the community.

According to Dr.Pritpal Singh, the coordinator of the American Gurdawara Parbhandak Committee, "We have mobilized all our resources to share the grief of Katrina victims. This is the worst natural disaster in American history and contribution by Sikh community in this hour of crisis would be as well a history".

Talking to ANI over telephone from the USA, Dr.Singh said that the Sikh community has so far dispatched two truckloads of grocery items, including juice, water and eatables for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He also said that the gurdawaras of Houston and Dallas have been organizing langars or community kitchens for victims.

The organizers, including Dr.Singh and Jaswant Singh Hooti vice president AGPC, are scheduled to visit Banson to distribute an aid of 20,000 dollars and other material help.

Meanwhile, reports reaching here said that the gurdwara in New Orleans is submerged and some 50 Sikh families from New Orleans and the outlying areas have been evacuated and are living in temporary homes.

The state government has assured the AGPC that arrangements will be made to lift Guru Granth Sahib by helicopter to a safer place soon.

"Biloxi city in Misissippi is also badly affected and we expect Sikhs to have been living there too. I will have a better idea of the situation in that area and Alabama soon and we will extend our relief work accordingly," Sumir Kaur, spokeswoman of United Sikhs Organization said.

The Delhi Gurdawara Parbhandak Committee in coordination with AGPC would organize an "Ardaas Diwas( Prayer Day) in Gurdawara Bangla Sahib New Delhi on September 11 evening.

Paramjit Singh Sarna, the president of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee (DGMC), said that invitations have been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Delhi and their officials to participate in the prayers. (ANI)


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