Sikhism believes in :
“Let no one be hungry where the spirit of God prevails”
“Let no one sleep without food”
“Let no one die of hunger”
Literally, Pangat means line or row for interdining (Commensality ਸੱਝਾ ਲ਼ੰਗਰ). Pangat is an institution in Sikhism which means to dine together sitting in row or line in Langar ( Kitchen). Pangat denotes partaking of food from community kitchen (Langar) while sitting in a row (Pangat).
As a principle, all are equal in Sikh Langar. Every body sits in row irrespective of caste, color or creed and eats the same Langar whether rich or poor, prince or a pauper.
It is strong belief in Sikhism that Sangat helps to attain spirituality and Pangat helps the human beings to increase mutual understanding and health preservation. Sharing of food, creates a sense of universal brotherhood on equality basis.
ਸੰਗਤ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਅਧਿਆਤਮਕ ਸ਼ਕਤੀ ਵਧਦੀ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਪੰਗਤ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਸਰੀਰਕ ਸ਼ਕਤੀ ਵਧਦੀ ਹੈ ॥
After performance of service in the Gurdwaras, Langar from the community kitchen is served without any prejudice and discrimination. The Langar is prepared by the volunteers. The Sikhs believe that food and water are gifts of God and they only take pleasure in serving these gifts free.
“Bread and water belong to the Lord and the desire to serve is the pleasure of Sikhs.”
ਅਨ ਪਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ, ਟਹਿਲ ਭਾਵਨਾ ਸਿਖੱ ਦੀ ॥
The institution of Pangat was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It was further strengthened by Guru Amar Das who ordered that free Langar must be served first, before any person could meet with him.
Once Emperor Akbar and Raja of Haripur came to pay a visit to the Guru. They had to partake food in the Pangat before they could join the company of the Guru. It is a saying that first is sharing of the food from community kitchen and then enjoying the company of the Sangat (Congregation of holy people)
“Pehle Pangat, Pichhon Sangat.”
The institutions of Gurdwara, Langar, Sangat and Pangat are the refineries for practical life where gold like electrolytic refining treatment is given to the devotees so that admixture of impurities is over thrown and virtues of life are inculcated instead. Sikhism teaches to attain a pure and pious life to unite with the Supreme Soul through these institutions.
Pangat plays a significant role to create sense of equality, brotherhood, humility and homogeneity. The twin institutions of Sangat and Pangat were started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji which was a revolutionary credo.
For more reading,
- Pangat according to Sikh Reht Maryada