By Karl Rogers
Sitting on a long carpet spread over a cold marble floor at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, a Sikh place of worship founded in 1521 (in present-day Pakistan), Ambassador Donald Blome and the team from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore enjoyed a traditional langar meal, Jan 25, 2023. In a show of interfaith harmony and generosity, langar meals are communal and shared with all visitors regardless of caste, faith, nationality, or gender. This simple meal of lentils, naan, and piping-hot masala tea is central to visiting one of the largest and holiest pilgrimage sites of the Sikh faith. The meal also served as the backdrop for a conversation with Sikh leaders about the importance of religious tolerance.
The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is a potent symbol of interfaith and cross-border collaboration, given its location on the India–Pakistan border, where each day it hosts Pakistani visitors and up to 500 Indian pilgrims who are granted temporary permission to cross the border. Blome met with military and government officials at the border site and learned first-hand about Sikh traditions during a tour of the gurdwara. The ambassador also donated staple goods to the communal kitchen and met with local volunteers.
Earlier on his trip to Punjab, while in Lahore, Blome hosted a group of nine Punjabi women religious leaders of different faiths (Christian, Hindu, Baha’i, Sikh, and Muslims of different sects) for a breakfast conversation about religious education practices, obstacles to female leadership, and current efforts to bolster interfaith harmony in Punjab. The women thanked the leadership of the U.S. Mission in Pakistan for championing programs that bring women from diverse backgrounds together. Blome concluded the breakfast by emphasizing the central role the values of religious freedom and diversity play in the United States.
Karl Rogers is the deputy public affairs officer and spokesperson at ConGen Lahore.