The ‘langar’ or the system of feeding the ‘zaireen’ is a salient feature of every saint’s residence or after his demise his shrine. People flock there in great numbers and mostly are served with meals twice a day, free of cost. In Pukhtun belt, such saints or ‘Wali-ul-llah’ receive large piece of land to provide grains to the ‘langar’. During the life time of Akhund Abdul Ghafoor popularly known as Saidu Baba, the people of Aba Khel, Barath Khel and Aka Maroof Bami Khel surrendered their lands to Saidu Baba for running the ‘langar’, kitchen or guest house. Major Raverty has described in detail about this ‘langar’ also in his report.
After Saidu Baba passed away, the ‘langar’ continued functioning without break. It served not only the visitors from beyond Swat, but also the poor locals of Saidu Sharif. They carried the mixed peas broth and corn cakes twice a day for their families.
When Miangul Abdul Wadud (Bacha Sahib) was elected by the grand ‘jirga’ of Swat as their King, the ‘langar’ was still functioning. Badshah Sahib used to eat with his staff on the same floor including his guards and the low staff, the same food with no special or specified dishes for him or other high officials. Besides, this, the people from all areas of Swat who had cases/disputes under hearing in Saidu courts were also served meals in Baringal palace of Bacha Sahib.
The ‘langar’ continued as usual. As the population of Saidu Sharif grew, people gathered in search of jobs in the new setup of Swat State. They were mostly landless and homeless people. They settled in Saidu Sharif. Some of them became tenants of the local Papinee Miangan and others got accommodation in the mud houses belonging to Badshah Sahib, without rent or ‘begar’. With the increase in number of court cases, the supply of meals to the parties of cases was stopped. Now only Badshah Sahib’s staff and the Khans etc were provided food in Baringal palace.
Due to shortage of hotels, the general people flocked to Saidu Baba ‘langar’. So thousands of corn cakes were cooked in large ovens and whosoever wanted to have free meals could get it from the ‘langar’.
The prisoners in the jail and the sepoys working in Saidu Sharif also were fed the same corn cakes called ‘Nangari’ and were supplied from the store of the State. This ‘langar’ played an important role in the socio-economic life of Saidu Wals. They could save the money earned on daily wages or selling firewood from the Marghazar valley. Their sons got free education and soon most of them got jobs in education department, health department, courts etc of the State. Thus a new segment of well-off class cropped up in the society, though not related to any of the historical and dominant clans. This new class got more educated, more social and more civilized than some of the influential families of Swat.