This wonderful news comes to us from Maharashtra.
Over the last few months of lockdown, thousands of buses, cars, trucks and tempos have been making a beeline for Karanji on the National Highway -7 where a nondescript tin shed with plastic sheets serves as their destination for a hot, piping meal.
This shed is the only place around 450 kms where they avail of a decent meal, that too free of cost from the hands of Baba Karnail Singh Khaira, an 81 year old Sikh who is revered as Khaira Babaji in this region.
Khaira Babaji shares, “This is a remote, tribal region. Behind us for nearly 150 kms and ahead for nearly 300 kms there is not a single dhaba or restaurant. So most people prefer to halt at Guru ka langar and avail of our round the clock services.”
There is a simple ochre colored board that says “Gurdwara Sahib” and Dera Kar Seva Gurudwara Langar Sahib”. This langar is linked with the historic Gurudwara Bhagod Sahib, Wai which is to be found 11 kms away in the forests. This iconic place is where the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had stayed in 1705 while on the way to Nanded, 250 kms away. It was here that he was assassinated on 7th October 1708. Ever since this place has bloomed as the world famous Gurudwara Takht Hazuri Sahib Sachkhand, which is one of the five Takhts in Sikhism.
Khaira Baba says, “Since the Gurudwara Bahgod Sahib is away from the main road, in 1988, this free langar came up as its branch. I was assigned to manage it with the blessings and guidance of Nanded Gurudwara Sahib’s Baba Narinder Singhji and Baba Balwinder Singhji.”
While the langar is a regular feature for many years, it was only in the trying times of the lockdown due to COVID-19 that people really came to appreciate the impeccable services rendered by Khaira Baba. Thousands of hungry people, which included stranded migrants, truckers, travellers, as well as villagers found solace and succor at his dhaba.
Khaira Baba shares, “We had hordes of people coming daily and we kept on cooking food continuously for them. We welcomed all with smiles and folded hands irrespective of their caste or creed. My regular team of 17 sevaks, including 11 cooks and other helpers were overworked, but they ensured a steady supply of fresh, piping hot food.”
The services include breakfast of tea with hard bread or biscuits, and all the meals are plain rice with tuvar dal, aloo vadi and aloo vanga. The langar also provides soap and borewell water for the weary travellers. Based on the number of disposable plates that were used, an astounding 15 lakh people have been fed in last 10 weeks. Another 5 lakh have taken parcels from the langar. Another unique aspect of this langar is that it feeds chappati-jaggery daily to around 250 dogs, cats and other stray animals. We certainly need more people like Khaira Baba who are making a difference to the COVID-19 situation.
Image Source: Indian Weekender