9. Women's Role
The position of woman at the time was deplorable. She was looked down upon because she was thought to be inferior to man and was regarded as merely a temptress. She was confined to her home and was not allowed to participate in any public work. Guru preached that man and women were equal before God. He welcomed women to the Sangat, offered them seats side by side and gave them religious rights that have so far been denied to her. Guru Angad scarcely worked alone. His wife and partner, Mata Khivi, is a very important woman who contributed significantly to Sikhism. Mata Kheevi played a major role in enlarging the women participation in the leadership position in Guruís court. Mata Khivi was instrumental in creating and maintaining the institution of langar, whereby all devotees of the Guru and all people in general, were invited to come and eat together. This practice started initially with Mata Khivi serving food to the members of the community and the visitors who would come to see Guru Angad and it came to symbolize the Guruís teachings; emphasizing the humanity in every single person and abolishing any innate discriminations. She did her job in a skillful and selfless manner, characteristic of her, and evoked spontaneous respect among the people. Her role in that capacity was unique and revolutionary because women were usually not seen in the forefront of the society. She also made sure that the food being fed was nutritious and wholesome because many who came to see Guru were needy and destitute. Mata Kheevi would embrace them all and offer love and food. She was, to use the simile of the contemporary ministrel Balwand, like a shady tree to the Guruís disciples and afforded them effectual shade. Her role and praise is recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib. To this day, after every service, visitors to a Sikh gurudwara witness a congregation who join and eat Langar together. Langar also emphasized that service to fellow man was an important tenet of the Sikh way of life, as it is customary for members of the congregation to serve one another.