Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, or simply the ‘Dera’ as it is generally known, is a mini-township with 7,000 residents. Since the Dera is the home of the spiritual leader of the organization, large crowds visit on specially designated weekends to hear his discourses. These crowds average between 200,000 to 500,000 people depending on the season. The administration has become highly skilled in managing and providing facilities for large numbers of people on a short-term basis.
The Venue In order to provide a sheltered venue for these gatherings, the Dera’s engineering department has constructed one of the largest covered structures in Asia, designed and fabricated on site using a lightweight space-frame technology. The roof provides a covered area where up to 500,000 people can be seated, and which can easily be expanded as the need arises. A computerized digital audio system was specially designed for the venue to provide the best possible sound for such a challenging environment.
Food To feed the visitors three meals a day, several approaches are taken. The langar (a place where food is served free of charge) is the primary means. The free langar complex covers over 48 acres and operates around the clock. Capable of feeding up to 300,000 people per meal, 50,000 in a single sitting, it has a mostly volunteer staff who prepare and serve simple but nourishing food suitable to local tastes. As an example, in 2013 the langar cooked more than 345,000 kilos of rice and used more than 2.6 million kilos of wheat to make the traditional flat breads. Meals are also served at canteens and snack bars at a nominal price.
The colony is visited by people from around the world and all walks of life. To provide temporary accommodations for everyone, a variety of facilities are offered, all free of charge. There are a number of guest hostels with individual rooms and attached baths, hostels with dormitory-style rooms, and other large buildings to house visitors.
The Dera seeks to be as self-sufficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Every year thousands of trees are planted. Many lawns and parks beautify the colony and provide space for visitors and residents to rest and relax. More than 1,250 acres of land are cultivated for growing vegetables and fruits that are used in the langar and by Dera residents. Organic farming methods are being adapted to local conditions. The Dera has its own water supply, water treatment plant and solid waste treatment facility. It has its own electrical sub-station and large electrical generator back-up facility to supply emergency power to the whole community. The Pathseekers School is a recent project for the children of Dera residents and the staffs of the Dera and Beas Hospitals. It currently serves students at the primary level and will later expand through the secondary level, serving about 1,200 students. The school is professionally run and equipped with up-to-date laboratories and computers. The students will receive a well-rounded education – up to India’s Certified Board Education standard.