Thursday, November 21, 2013

A visit to the Punjab (part 2)

The second place to visit when in Amritsar is the Golden Temple: the most sacred place for the Sikhs and the heart of their religion.

The basic beliefs of Sikhism are as follows:

  • Sikhs believe in one God. He is the same for all people of all religions.
  • Sikhism teaches equality of all people. Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. Sikhism teaches the full equality of men and women.
  • Sikhism emphasizes daily devotion to the remembrance of God. One should remember God at all times.
  • Sikhism teaches religious freedom. All people have the right to follow their own path to God without condemnation or coercion from others.
  • Sikhism emphasizes a moral and ethical life. A Sikh should represent moral responsibility and righteousness.
  • Sikhism rejects all forms of rituals such as idol worship, pilgrimages, fasting, and superstitions.
  • Sikhism teaches service to others. The primary task in life should be to help the poor, needy, and oppressed.
  • Sikhs are supposed to be saints, scholars, and soldiers.
  • The word Sikh means disciple or student. Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus.

The temple was built in the 16th Century and rebuilt in the 18th Century following an attack by the Afghans.

The complex is open to anyone: all religions and all castes are welcomed here.

The complex is open 24/7 and has a kitchen that feeds over 100,000 people a day.

All the people who help feed everyone are volunteers.

We were quite lucky to be taken on a tour of the kitchens, to see the food being prepared. The sight of thousands of plates, ready to be handed out was amazing.

In June of 1984, the Golden Temple was the site of Operation Blue Star: an attack by the Indian Army on the temple to dislodge Sikh separatists who had holed up in the complex.

The subsequent fallout from Operation Blue Star was the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984 and the massacre of 3,000 Sikhs in anti-Sikh rioting that followed.

Despite the bloodshed that happened here, the temple is a very peaceful place. I’ve never really felt spiritual anywhere in India (maybe because of all the people) whereas I feel it everywhere in Ireland.

The Golden Temple is definitely a spiritual place. It has a sense of Majick that I can feel and something that I’ve been missing. It was so nice to feel that again.

I know the photos don’t do it any justice but I hope you like them.


In the kitchen: making the chapatis

Bathing in the sacred waters

In the kitchen: lunch cooking away
In the kitchen: more food cooking away
A sit-down meal

Cutting up the onions
Getting a sense of the number of meals served each day

A dodgy pair of characters

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