Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Legacy of Selfless Service: Mata Khivi and the Langar Tradition

by Manjari Singh

Mata Khivi, the wife of Guru Angad Dev, the second Sikh Guru, is a revered figure in Sikh history. While lesser known than the Gurus themselves, Mata Khivi’s legacy is as vital to the Sikh faith as the teachings of the Gurus. She is best known for her role in establishing the langar, the community kitchen that is a cornerstone of Sikh practice.

Born in 1506, Mata Khivi embodied the Sikh spirit of generosity and service from a young age. Married to Lahina, who later became Guru Angad Dev, she witnessed firsthand the importance of hospitality as devotees traveled from afar to seek Guru Nanak’s teachings.

Building on the foundation laid by Guru Nanak, Mata Khivi is credited with formalizing the langar system. She ensured everyone, regardless of background or faith, was welcomed and fed a nourishing meal. The langar, often called “Mata Khivi ji da Langar” (Mother Khivi’s langar) in her honor, became a symbol of Sikhism’s core principles of equality and social justice.

Mata Khivi’s contributions extended beyond the langar. She is described as a pillar of the early Sikh community, managing finances, caring for visitors, and even playing a role in religious instruction. Her tireless service and devotion to the Sikh way of life inspired countless others.

Her influence transcended the boundaries of her time. Mata Khivi is the only wife of a Guru mentioned by name in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism. She is lauded for her kindness, compassion, and unwavering support for her husband and the Sikh Gurus who followed.

Today, langars continue to be a vital part of Sikh gurdwaras (places of worship) all over the world. They serve as a testament to Mata Khivi’s legacy of selfless service and her unwavering belief in the importance of community and equality. Her story serves as a powerful reminder that even behind the scenes, the contributions of women can shape the course of history and leave an enduring impact on the world.

Manjari Singh

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