During our first full day in Delhi, Kristin and I got to experience a few of the different religions that are widely practiced in India. Our first stop was at a Sikh Temple. Sikhism originated in Punjab, a province that was in British-ruled India until India’s independence in 1947. Now, it is a region in northwest India.
At the Temple, we took off our shoes and put on a head covering. I had never before covered my hair for religious observance before that day. I’ve heard and read countless debates about the practice of women covering their hair, and whether it symbolizes oppression or respect; but doing it there, at the Sikh Temple, for the first time, felt normal and routine. Standing beside all of the other women with their hair covered as well, I felt unified with them, and I felt comfortable while in a place so far and different from home.
Sikhs pray to the Book of 10 Gurus; they treat it with extreme respect and care. During prayer, the book is swaddled in a blanket like a baby. Sikhs typically pray throughout the entire day, everyday; they bathe outside in the Temple’s large bath. Sikh men follow the 5 K’s: bracelet, dagger, shorts, turban, and comb. In Hindi, these items all start with the letter K. Men must carry or wear these items at all times.
Next, we went to a Hindu Temple, which was very beautiful. Not one spot of the Temple lacked color. Unlike Sikhs, who pray to a book, Hindus pray to deities, or multiple gods and goddesses. A few of their idols are Ganesha, the elephant, which represents good luck; Laskshmi, the woman, who represents wealth; Brahma, the man with four hands, who is the creator; Vishnu, the blue-colored man, also with four hands, who is the preserver; and Shiva, a man with a third eye, who is the destroyer. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are part of the Hindu deity triumvirate, the most popular of the Hindu gods. But, those are just to name a few; Hindus believe in 33 million gods and goddesses. Again, the Hindu Temple was beautiful. Each god and goddess was presented in a different room, and elaborately decorated; they were covered in jewels, fabrics and paints. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the Hindu Temple. Continue reading