A young man in a hot-pink turban raises his hands humbly as he sits crossed-legged on the floor. Into his raised hands falls a hot roti that he plops into the metallic tray in front of him. Next to him is an elderly woman wearing a saffron sari. She raises her hands next and is offered the same. On either side of them are hundreds of others, all seated cross-legged, and all with the same metallic tray.
Everyone eats the same food being dished out by the volunteers: dal, vegetables, and a thick South Asian rice pudding called kheer. It is lunchtime at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, and of the nearly 100,000 people who eat here on an average day, not a single one of them will pay for the food they consume. Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch?