The langars or free meal services are a panacea for the poor and hungry in Chandigarh

The community langar, which is considered a ‘holy service’ in the Punjab, is being served outside the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Chandigarh for several years now.

It was started outside the PGI by a local fruit merchant Jagdish Lal Ahuja, now in his late 70s, from his own financial resources. Over the years, Gurudwara Jhanda Sahib, located in nearby Kharar (Punjab) joined the effort.

Mr. Ahuja’s langar, which earned the epithet of ‘Baba’s Langar,’ then shifted to the GMCH where lunch is served daily.  However, ‘Baba’ and his employees continued to serve tea and supper near the car parking lot outside Nehru Hospital as well.

“Food is very expensive and sometimes sub-standard in the canteens earmarked for the public. So the wholesome food served by the Gurudwara and the Baba is a blessing for us,” said Mahesh from Himachal Pradesh, who is attending to his elder brother in the cancer ward of PGI.

Ram Meher, a rickshaw-puller said that he does not mind the serpentine queues which are orderly with people waiting their turn patiently. He admits that sometimes he stands in the queue for a second time to get more food but nobody objects.

Similar queues are to be seen outside the GMCH in the afternoon and outside PGIMER in the evening as soon as Mr. Ahuja and his team of volunteers start serving the langar.

Govind, a poor patient from Mussourie undergoing treatment for lung infection, raised a relevant question, “Why can’t the hospital authorities or the local administration provide the same facilities.”