Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 257: The Golden Temple

After waking up in a sweat in my hot pilgrim dormitory, I went to get a disappointing rendition of Amritsar’s famous kulcha for breakfast. After doing so, I entered the hallow grounds of Sikh’s most holy place at the Golden Temple. The temple has strict requirements to keep it as clean as it is with washing of the feet in a shallow bath after leaving one’s shoes at the shoe house, covering one’s head with a bandana cloth if not wearing a turban, and not smoking or drinking alcohol as I was told by the long sword toting guard at the entrance. The main square enclosure is not technically the golden temple itself because that actually rests in the middle of the water tank connected by a walkway. The water tank contains water at a depth I am not sure of but far deep enough for the Sikhs and anyone else willing to bathe in its holy waters to cleanse their sins. It didn’t take long for people to engage me since I was surprisingly one of the few white people/foreigners around which surprised me for being such a famous place in India but maybe its position 30 km from the Pakistan border has deterred others. Most wanted pictures or a short chat but one Sikh wanted to spend more time with me. The guy was a bit of a nut but he was willing to show me around the temple to explain some things I would have had no other way of knowing while mixing in some of his wily eyed opinions. The water was extremely clean aside from the fact Sikhs from all over the world come here to bathe in its waters as part of their pilgrimage. We walked around the square composed of mostly all white pure marble? 

All the priests in their individual corridors revolved around the square bordering of the water and temple reading from the holy book which happens to be their 11th guru and is treated like a living being in a way. They continue reading it all the way through and takes over 2 days nonstop
Waving wand of feathers over the book (Royal/holy treatment or to just swat away flies)
Amritsar is a hot area but the base and center for Sikhs with Punjab being the state for all this. Lahore is another important place but has been placed on the other side of the border thanks to the British desire to break up the strength of the Sikhs and Punjabs because they were the greatest warriors who had to always deal with invaders from the west such as the Mughals, they were the first line of defense not necessarily out of choice but they would join the fight regardless
10 gurus with one starting the religion, 9th/10th creating the army
Tiny swords at their hilt as a sign of defense, to defend the innocent
One man who died over religion, Mughals wanted to convert everyone to Islam. He fought with his beheaded head held in his hand with his other arm fighting off the enemy
Dipping into water five times
Separate quarters for women dipping to be in privacy
The guys dropped down to just their underwear and of course turban
Constant chanting, singing of the readings from the holy book
The guy loved talking about politics and his own problems, I tried helping him out with it because he is in the midst of depression and I had my own bouts but he was too concerned with himself. I need to learn how to disengage from people more but my nature is to always help people
Water bowls at all four corners
People walking around square, talking pictures, dipping, respect
Went through the long line, made sure to have my long pants on despite the heat for respect even though not necessarily needed, to golden temple. Roof and some of core is pure gold. Crowded but great experience to feel the vibe of the place. People giving donations, kneeling to ground and then placing forehead onto floor. Beautiful singing.
No photos inside
Three levels high of prayer, gold, holy books
Each holy book is equal, none greater than another
Received a prasad which was a sugary mixture scooped by hand into my own, emphasis in religion is to always give to others because it started for those in need the poor
The poor and rich for prayer and meal should sit equally side by side with no one’s head rising above the other, equals
Went to his pilgrim house room and met his family, mother suffering from cancer. He asked if I had American medicine that could help her. Clearly he was delirious. Just because I am American doesn’t mean I carry around hospital grade medicine for those severe cases
We went to eat at a great restaurant eating amazing kulcha paratha (paneer, aloo, gobi, and pomegranate seeds, plus spices) and lassi 🙂 and he paid for it
Went separate ways
I went memorial park where years ago Brits massacred many punjabis, many jumped into a well to escape the bullets but of course died from the fall
Visited McDs for wifi and air-con
Went back to temple because I love the place, the people, and feel of it
Said nut again and said goodbye
Met this kid, the Slumdog scam
Went into golden temple again because again why not?
Watched the book closing ceremony: put book to sleep on its fresh, clean blankets and clothes and then carried on the head to its bed
Golden temple was a stunner at night when the light was at its greatest contrast
Made plans to see kid again tomorrow morning
Went to bed or at least tried. It was far too hot but I needed what sleep I could get since I wanted to get up for sunrise
Bought share taxi to border and back

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