Mata Khivi (1506-1582) is an important figure in Sikh history. She is the only woman to be mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. She established the system of ‘langar,’ which is the community kitchen found in a gurdwara. She contributed greatly in instilling a sense of hospitality in the Sikh people.
Mata Khivi was born in an affluent family. She was married to Guru Angad, the second guru in Sikhism. She was a devoted mother and wife. She used to serve the people coming to visit her husband with utmost care and hospitality. Not only did she personally supervise the ‘langar,’ but also served the people with her own hands. No disciples of the guru were left without food. She made sure that only the best ingredients were used in the preparation of the food. Her sense of hospitality has been made immortal in numerous texts and it has become a cultural identity identified with the Sikhs.
Even after the death of Guru Angad, she did not give up her hospitality. She continued the practice of serving people in the successive guru’s langar until her death. Her belief in her religious faith encouraged her to work tirelessly for the Sikh cause. The Guru Granth Sahib describes her as a ‘good person,’ ‘an affectionate mother’ and ‘one who provides shelter and protection to others.’