The Harmandir Sahib, also known as the “Golden Temple,” is a Sikh Gurudwara in Amritsar, Punjab, India where I spent a month learning about sustainable systems. Within the Golden Temple complex is a Langar hall, a community kitchen that provides a free vegetarian meal for anyone, Sikh or not, that’s purpose is to display the Sikh belief in equality. It was here that myself and 12 other Michigan students participated in and learned about their system, which feeds around 50,000 people daily on donations and volunteer work. Community became a word that we all began to use frequently to express the feeling of contributing to something greater than ourselves and bonding with locals and other visitors who were curious about what we were doing.

In our effort to get the whole picture of how this system works on such a massive scale, we followed the food from the farm to our mouths. We visited a farm where food is grown with pride by a hearty family.

We watched as everyone bargained for copious amounts of food at the farmer’s market.

Finally, we came back to the kitchen where we jumped in to help slice, dice, roll, stir, butter (lots of butter) and much more, alongside people like the cook and his grandson (pictured above) to make a complete meal. I learned so much about myself and the world around me from my experiences with the people of India and from the positive, caring environment of the Golden Temple.

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