PAṄGAT, from Sanskrit pankti (lit. a row, line, series, or a group, assembly, company), stands in Sikh terminology for commensality or sitting together on the ground in a row to partake of food from a common kitchen regardless of caste, creed, sex, age or social status. Paṅgat is thus a synonym for Gurū kā Laṅgar, an institution of fundamental importance in Sikhism. It is customary for diners in the Gurū kā Laṅgar to sit side by side in a paṅgat or row when food is served to them by sevādārs or volunteers. The institution of Gurū kā Laṅgar itself thereby came to be referred to as paṅgat. Another reason for the popularity of the term probably is its alliterative and sonorous affinity to saṅgat or holy congregation, another basic institution of the Sikhs. As, later in Sikh history, deg (lit. kettle) came to stand for Gurū kā Laṅgar because it rhymed with tegh (lit. sword), so did paṅgat for rhyming with saṅgat. The earliest use of paṅgat in Sikh literature appears in Bhāī Gurdās (d.1636), poet and exegete, in his Vārāṅ, XVII.12, where it matches saṅgat to produce resonant effect : "haṅs vaṅsu nihchal matī saṅgati paṅgati sāthu baṇandā — firm believers of the tribe of swans (i.e. the Sikhs) made appropriate company in saṅgat and paṅgat — in saṅgat they pray together, in paṅgat they eat together. Gurū Amar Dās (1479-1574) attached particular importance to paṅgat. He expected every visitor to partake of food in it before seeing him. This gave rise to the popular saying : pahile paṅgat pachhe saṅgat eating together must take precedence over meeting together.