The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which is the key organisation behind many of Sikhism’s major historical Gurdwaras including the Golden Temple in Amritsar has decided that langar (food in community kitchens) should be cooked from local and organic ingredients. And they will start, in November, by growing organically on gurdwara land.
The Sikh Environment body EcoSikh, as part of the Green Pilgrimage Network, has been working with the SGPC to find more ecological, workable solutions to the chemical food crisis in Punjab.
By Harkirat Singh
AUGUST 3, 2015 The SGPC has finally woken-up to the reality that the ‘daal-roti’ (pulses and chapattis) served in ‘langars’ (community kitchens) of its gurdwaras is laced with chemicals harmful to the human health.
The langar (food for community kitchen) is either purchased from the market or is collected by way of offerings from devotees. Some of these items like wheat for making chapattis also comes from agricultural land owned by the gurdwara body.
The SGPC has now decided to restrict the preparation of langar from chemical-laced food items. This clearly implies that langar prepared from organically produced foodgrains like wheat and rice, pulses, vegetables and even spices will be encouraged in all SGPC-managed historical gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (HP).
Encourages organic farming
The first step in this direction has been taken, with the SGPC holding a meeting with agricultural experts at Teja Singh Samundri Hall on the Golden Temple Complex here.
Officers of the Amritsar district agriculture department, including chief agriculture officer (CAO) Balwinder Singh Chinna, interacted with senior SGPC officials at the meeting.
At the meeting, SGPC secretary Roop Singh disclosed that the SGPC executive under its president Avtar Singh Makkar had given the go-ahead to organic farming on land owned by the religious body. The managers of all historical shrines of the SGPC were also present in the meeting.
The presence of the managers is significant as agricultural land is ‘attached’ or owned by many of the SGPC-managed shines. They will be instrumental in restricting the use of synthetic fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides on land under their respective jurisdiction and putting the organic farming concept into practice.
Roop Singh underlined the need of serving langar, which is free from any chemical sprays. He said in ‘guru ghar’ (gurdwaras) we must ensure that healthy food is served to devotees. In the first phase, he said, five acres attached with each shrine would be brought under organic farming. This implies that only gurdwaras which own five acres or more land will be brought under organic farming.
According to a rough estimate, in the first phase, the organic farming will be put into practice on around 100 acre. This will include one gurdwara in Himachal Pradesh (HP) besides the shrines in Punjab and Haryana, which own five acre or more land. The concept is likely to be put into practice in November when the wheat sowing season commences.
Chinna, who also addressed the meeting, welcomed the SGPC step and assured that his team would be ever ready to offer their expertise. He suggested involving Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in this project. “Do not get discouraged as yields will be low through organic farming. However, gradually the yields will increase. However, we must give importance to healthy food instead of just looking at yields,” he said, while addressing the meeting.
He pointed out that just for the sake of higher yields farmers tend to put in an overdose of synthetic fertilisers into the soil and also use chemical sprays, much more than the prescribed dose. These chemicals find their way into the food grains and vegetables and also damage the soil, he added.overdose of synthetic fertilisers into the soil and also use chemical sprays, much more than the prescribed dose. These chemicals find their way into the food grains and vegetables and also damage the soil, he added.