Tag Archives: religion

Reblogged: Weekend in the Village (Part 2 – Getting Up-close and Personal)

Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post Weekend in the Village (Part 2 – Getting Up-close and Personal) was originally posted on May 20, 2012 via the Project365: Volunteers for Change weblog I set-up with my VSO volunteer batch. I spent a weekend with the family of my colleague and friend Charu at her mother’s hometown in Taloshi, Mahad, Maharashtra. This is a two-part story for the events and scenes from May 4-8.

You’ve already read/seen how a day in an Indian village goes by. Well, it’s kind of a special day with the festival and all but still, it would look something like that. More or less. 🙂

That said, this post focuses on other aspects of Indian life, not just in a village but also in a bigger picture. Are you ready to get Indianised? :p

Water

Everyone needs water. Some more than most. Especially during a festival when everyone seems to have remembered where they came from and decided to pay homage to their roots. It’s an almost non-stop sight–women queuing for wells and tap areas and walking about with one or two jars on their head. Some include one for the side/hips too!
Queuing for Water. Young, middle-aged and old women (I’ve seen a couple or so men too) fill their water jars (tin and copper) to keep a steady supply at home (I guess for cooking and drinking)

Continue reading Reblogged: Weekend in the Village (Part 2 – Getting Up-close and Personal)

#100Days Photo 6: Yamuna River, Uttar Pradesh, North India

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While the Taj Mahal is one of the most popular seven wonders of the world, very little is known about the beautiful river in which bank it stands — the Yamuna River. Also referred to as Jamuna, the Yamuna River is the biggest tributary river to Ganges River, one of the holiest rivers in India and Hinduism. I learned that today by reading the Wikipedia entry on the Yamuna River since I’ve already forgotten! Hinduism promotes the belief that the Yamuna River is actually a goddess, and revered as such, with the legend that bathing in her waters will “free you from the torment of death” (I don’t really know what that meant). So, when you happen to visit Taj Mahal (or Agra Fort, where I took the photo), take a moment to enjoy the view the Yamuna River offers and maybe, just maybe, your whispered prayer or wish might be granted by the goddess. In the meantime, there’s a YouTube playlist widget (on the right) on my Taj Mahal and Agra Fort tour, with more Yamuna River views should you want to armchair travel!>

Backpacking South East Asia: Walking Around Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok

Bangkok is known here in the Philippines, and perhaps in many other countries, as a place to do your bargain shopping. Little do people know that it is in Bangkok where they will be introduced to Buddhism, whether it was their intention or not. As for me, I think Bangkok was my first official Buddhist induction—with Khao San Road, the backpackers mecca where I stayed (well, the next street), and Rattanakosin Island (as in the tourist area) being very Wat (temple) sections of Bangkok.

Backpacking SEA - Bangkok - Grand Palace Grounds

Don’t worry though, as being overloaded with Buddhism and Thai architecture is something that you should look forward to. I think the Buddhism and IndoChina-rooted/based architecture, religious and cultural heritage is something that is very different from other countries, especially the Philippines. So, without further ado, I give you an overview (so as not to spoil your personal discovery) of what Bangkok is beyond shopping. These photos were selected among the hundreds I took while walking from Thanon Khao San towards the tourist sites of Rattanakosin Island.

Backpacking SEA - Bangkok - Thanon Khao San Continue reading Backpacking South East Asia: Walking Around Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok

Evening Puja (Prayer Rituals) at Varanasi—the Hindus’ Holy City

I first heard of Varanasi from a co-volunteer during my first week in India. He said that it is a must for him to visit Varanasi, the Hindus’ holy city. Varanasi is said to be the place where Hindus’ would like to die in, if they get the chance. I was told that it is believed that dying in Varanasi or having their remains sunk below or their ashes scattered across the Ganges River will either stop their reincarnation (maybe especially when they expect to rep bad karma in their next life) and/or go straight to heaven. Another reason for Hindu pilgrimage in Varanasi is the belief that you can be cleansed of your sins and cured of your illness once you drink from or bathe at the Ganges River.

Varanasi Puja - The Ghats of Varanasi

Continue reading Evening Puja (Prayer Rituals) at Varanasi—the Hindus’ Holy City

Entering the Sikh’s Heaven (Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab)

I spent the third day of the new year being awed and mesmerized (not to mention frozen) by the Golden Temple in Amritsar. While Amritsar is not the state capital, hundreds of thousands, possibly hundreds of millions, visit this city at India’s northwestern frontier as it is home to the Harmandir Sahib aka Golden Temple. The Harmandir Sahib is considered “heaven” among the Sikhs, followers of Sikhism. (most of us [especially Pinoy] know them as the people with the turban)

Amritsar - Golden Temple Dip
A devout Sikh dips into the sarovar (holy pool) even when it’s about 5 degrees cold

I first came to know of the Golden Temple via an article written by Mamu Rose, a Filipina co-volunteer, who toured the Sikh’s Holy City together with other VSO volunteers. Upon gazing at the picture, I told myself that I, too, shall see the Golden Temple for myself.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Panorama
The Golden Temple is located in the middle of the holy pool

It took months before I was finally able to go but I was so glad that I did. Being at Harimandir Sahib, even though I was not a Sikh or a follower of Sikhism (though I like their teachings, the ones I heard of at least), gave me a certain feeling of calm and peace. The Golden Temple, unlike any other places I visited, I felt these even while I was just about to enter the complex premises.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Entrance
One of the entrances, by the Langer (free kitchen). Covered heads and washed feet are required before entry

I don’t know but for some reason, I felt like I am really being welcomed. That I am being, uhm, ushered in. Alright, alright. You can say I am being dramatic. But that was really what I felt at the time. And mind you, I haven’t actually gone in the Golden Temple itself yet.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Bridge
A bridge connects the pilgrims and visitors from the walkway area to the Harimandir Sahib

It probably was because of the long line of devotees and “curious” tourists waiting to get their chance to enter the Sikh “heaven” (although I think the entire complex kinda feels like that already) but also, more importantly, because I wanted to understand the essence of the Harimandir Sahib better.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Bridge Entrance
Can you see the line just to enter the Golden Temple?

And that moment came later that night when my CouchSurfing kind-of host Sokirt met me at the Harmandir Sahib after the trip to the Wagah (Indo-Pakistan) border. Sokirt is a Sikh, and, I should say, probably as devout as my grand aunt were in the congregation.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Right
The Golden Temple and the lights are reflected by the sarovar during the day and night

How did I say so? Well, when we entered the Golden Temple complex, the first words out of Sokirt’s mouth, was “This is heaven.” And, though I may not share the same views as strongly as he does when it comes to religion, I gotta say, I was sold. I mean, you could hear it in his voice. There was so much faith and belief.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Center
Pilgrims and visitors are highly encouraged to revel at the Golden Temple’s majesty during the day and the night

I haven’t met anyone like Sokirt who had that much reverence and awe for his place of worship. Or for the idea of having “heaven on earth”. Not even my late grand aunt. I probably would not convert to Sikhism but really, meeting a Sikh in their holy site and seeing and feeling how much they believe in the teachings of Sikhism, man, that is something that gets through you.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Night Close Up
The Harimandir Sahib glows and radiates throughout the night

When asked about my favorite places or moments in India, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is definitely always mentioned. Not just because of the beauty of the Harimandir Sahib itself (which was built thrice already after being destroyed due to religious and political conflicts) but of what the temple and the surrounding structures represent. Of course, it might be different for you and me. But if you have the chance, I hope you’d get to visit the Golden Temple and see and feel for yourself how the Sikh’s “heaven” can be a refuge for you as well.

Amritsar - Golden Temple Souvenir Photo
Sokirt said I was a brave girl for coming to Amritsar during winter. Well, at 5 degrees, I guess my 8-layered get-up can cope. 🙂

For general travel information on how to get to Amritsar and visit the Harimandir Sahib, please refer to Wikitravel. If you want to learn more about my experience at the Golden Temple and the other places in Amritsar (Langer [free kitchen], Wagah Border, Jalianwallah Bagh), please be patient Smile for the rest of the entries or leave me a comment.