The Khalsa Diwan Manila was founded in 1929- through contributions from the Sikh community in the Philippines. It serves as a place of worship for Punjabis while away from India.
The langar– meaning communal kitchen was started by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak in the 16th century in Amritsar, Punjab, India. He aimed to strengthen the belief of sharing and treating people equally through food. Cooked in large stainless steel and aluminium pots, the Khalsa Diwan in Manila offers a tasty variety of spiced dhals, pakoras, rice, roti, yoghurt curry and sweet ladoos. Whiffs of masala engulf the hall. There is no discrimination between gender, religion, or race.
I watch a slim middle-aged Filipino man in charge, pacing from pot to pot – adding refills of Punjabi food that he cooked earlier on in the day. The wall glistened with the stains of vegetable oil and ghee (clarified butter). The Khalsa Diwan hires locals to help with their Seva (service) to offer free meals to devotees and tourists daily.
“I’ve been with the temple for 15 years.” He said proudly with a flowery head scarf tied across his head.
“How do you find Indian food?” I ask out of curiosity.
“It took some time, – I’m used to the spices now…
“They’re good for you.” he laughed as he doled out another batch of curry into a pot.