Golden YearsDelhi, Spring 2012
This past week brought our Geographies of Faith class to Amritsar in Punjab, which lies on the border of India and Pakistan. Here we explored the practice of Sikhism, one of the dominant religions in Punjab. Over our weekend we visited The Golden Temple of the Sikhs on two different occasions- allowing us to see the rituals of both the evening and the day. The Golden Temple is an overwhelming expression of beauty. Situated in a large pool of water that is considered “holy nectar,” hundreds of people can be found bathing and praying at all hours. At the Gurdwara (the Sikh word for temple meaning “gateway to the Guru”) one is surrounded by blinding white walls of marble and gold leaf. The Gurdwara kitchen serves hot meals for massive crowds and all our welcome to help peel garlic or make dough for chapati. The history of the Sikh faith and the Golden Temple has been one of extreme violence. At the entrance of the temple, one can take a tour through their museum of martyrdom and is inundated with portraits of the deceased. In juxtaposition, the major daily act of the temple struck me as both touching and sweet, this act is putting the holy book to bed. After ten in the evening the book is carried on a great pedestal while people chant and throw bright orange chrysanthemum blooms till it’s tucked into a bed to rest. The Sikh’s use this act to show the living presence of their text on earth.
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