BHAṆḌĀRĀ from bhaṇḍār (Skt. bhāṇḍāra = bhāṇḍā, vessel, implement, + āgāra, house, meaning store-house, depository, treasure house) has been used in this literal sense in Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Holy Book of the Sikhs. In extended connotation the term stands for a feast given especially for yogīs and sannyāsins, or to invoke divine favour for a private or public cause. Bhaṇḍārā in current usage means any feast under religious auspices by individuals or institutions open to laymen as well as to devotees. In this sense it would be like gurū kā laṅgar, a typically Sikh institution, except that the latter is not aimed at any specific object, nor is it restricted in duration. As an adjunct of the gurdwārā the laṅgar is always open for pilgrims, wayfarers and the needy. Periodically on festive occasions sādhūs of Udāsī, Nirmalā and other denominations hold their ritual bhaṇḍārās at famous places of pilgrimage with great fanfare. Bhaṇḍārās fall into two varieties -pakkā and kachchā. The former comprises rich viands with most of the eatables fried in ghee while the latter offers a simpler fare, closer to the workaday repast.

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)