On Saturday 17 April, it was the funeral of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in Windsor. The funeral was limited to 30 members of the Royal Family due to the Covid restrictions.
Many people came to Windsor and wanted to pay their respect. The British Sikh community are as sombre as anyone else given the death of the Duke, so they wanted show their support to the Royal Family and to those working tirelessly on the day of the funeral.
The idea came through langar being distributed to the front-line colleagues who were responsible for policing Windsor and surrounding areas on the day.
The group of Sikh volunteers were the only one’s providing meals all day for free, via the concept of Guru Ka Langar, which started by Guru Nanak dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh religion.
The volunteers set up in Alexander Gardens, on a beautiful sunny day and the food served was curry and rice, samosas and spring rolls and some soft drinks.
This idea was organised by the established links that the National Sikh Police Association (NSPAUK) has with the local community, a discussion was had with a sevadaar (Punjabi word for volunteer who offers their service to the Gurdwara or Sikh community for free) from Southall Gurdwara about how the Sikhs could support the funeral, particularly the emergency services deployed to policing the funeral itself. They wanted to do something nice to show their support and sympathy to the Royal Family on the day of the funeral but also to show support to our law enforcement teams who were working all day to keep Windsor secure for the funeral.
Harmeet Singh General Secretary Singh Sabha Gurdwara Southall said “In Sikh tradition, the community comes together to help and support any family mourning the loss of a loved one. The volunteers of SGSSS were happy to provide the requested langar to the volunteers and police officers on duty during Prince Philip’s funeral in Windsor. SGSSS was the first Gurdwara in the UK to provide the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and we felt our gesture would be a befitting thank you.”
One of the volunteers Jasvir Singh Lakhanpal was helping out on the day to serve the food and said “I felt really great to do sewa at Windsor today and feed approximately 400 police officers who had a very important role to play at Prince Phillip’s funeral.
“All the thanks go to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall who spent hours making the langar.
“As a Sikh I always take pride in doing selfless service (sewa) to a wider community and I have been doing this since many years and all throughout the COVID Pandemic whereby we were taking Langar to Local NHS hospital and delivering to elderly and needy people.
“Sikhs have a long-standing relationship with the Royal family and Great Britain as our ancestors have served in the British army during World War One and two so I felt great that I could part of an historic Royal event.”
Ash Chopra, Thames valley police representative said: “As a Sikh, we pride ourselves to serve others, so although we also represent policing, today we also represented the Sikh community. At the gurdwara langar is distributed by sevadaars, today was no different. In unity representing Sikhi, we served others.
“The distribution of langar was very well received. Officers were well fuelled through the hot meals provided, but also it created an environment to raise awareness of Sikhs, both who they are and what they represent. This week Sikhs across the world are marking Vaisakhi, due to Covid restrictions any work related events of creating awareness around Sikhi has been somewhat limited, however this active engagement has allowed us as both within Sikh Policing and Sikhs with our community to educate our colleagues on the concept of Langar, where it was derived from (that is, Guru Nanak Dev Ji) and the importance of promoting equality, but also the deliverance of the message from our beloved Guru Gobind Singh Ji to recognise the human race as one. Fostering a culture of awareness, it is vitally important, we use our energy to educate rather that critique others there is likely to be healthy progress of promoting diversity, inclusion and most important equality – which is a fundamental point within Sikhi.
“On behalf of the National Sikh Police Association UK, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to all the Royal Family and to the entire nation and commonwealth, who HRH Prince Phillip loyally and selflessly served. Our thoughts and prayers are particularly with Her Majesty the Queen. Prince Phillip has left an incredible legacy, may he always remain in ‘Chardi Kala’ – High Spirits.”
The Sikh community have been serving langar to those shielding, those vulnerable and many who are homeless in the pandemic. They are always there to help anyone in need and the beauty of langar is that no one goes hungry.