Sunday, August 05, 2012

Who Are The Sikhs?

We've been out all day enjoying being in Alaska, so I only just heard about the attack at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  

I'm guessing a lot of Americans don't know much about Sikhs.  I don't know a lot, but we did get to go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India in 2006.  The Golden Temple is the center of the Sikh religion. I'm editing together a few posts from that time. 

November 10, 2006

We gave up on the idea of going to the Golden Temple at 4 am to see the Book procession. That turned out to be fine and we got to sleep in a bit. We were at the Temple at 8:30am. You come into the complex, check in your shoes and socks, (Yeah, I got to go barefoot!) and then walk through the water pools (running water to clean your feet). Then up the stairs to this magical view of the temple shimmering in the middle of the water.  We walked around the temple first, then along the causeway out to the temple. The place is full of people in all manner of beautiful and/or interesting types of clothing. Men strip down to their shorts and bathe in the pool. Women have a more private bathing area. This is the Vatican of the Sikh world. Built about 400 years ago it is a beautiful and spiritual place. The chanting inside the temple is broadcast throughout. You watch Sikhs enter and a look of joy comes over some of them as they then prostrate themselves toward the temple. We were there early enough that it wasn't too crowded going into the temple. No pictures allowed there. In here is the holy Book of the Sikh world. Beautiful carpets, the walls intricately painted, the rhythm of the chanting, pilgrims meditating. There is such a spiritual and calming sense here. Someone gives me a round sweet. Someone else mimics sticking it in my mouth. Another asks if we have gone upstairs. We follow the winding stairs to another room with a man reading a huge book. Views from between the golden 'knobs' surrounding the roof of the temple.

A really special place. Our short stay in Amritsar has been fantastic. Then after circling (squaring would be more accurate) the temple again, we eventually decided we needed to move on. We stopped in a book store and bought a couple of books and some CDs of the chanting, retrieved our shoes and wandered out into the world again. By the way, when I pulled out my map of Amritsar to ask the man at the book store directions, he said, Put away the maps. Maps are useless in India. One gains spiritual enrichment by helping others find their way.

The world. Bike rickshaws, motorcycles, horse drawn carriages, shops selling all sorts of Sikh related paraphernalia, people squeezing between the vehicles, horns honking... up the street and into another oasis - at least today. This is the Jailliawalla Bawg, where the British massacred about 1000 Indians. If you saw the movie Gandhi, you saw the Indians protesting in the park while the British came in through the only entrance and set up their guns. Today it is a lush green park full of school kids visiting the various memorials to the dead.

We stopped in a cyber cafe and got all my pictures downloaded to a CD and then into a restaurant for a delicious lunch.

 October 25, 2006
We're going to India next week and so today we met with a Sikh friend to talk about our trip. While talking about visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, he told us that every day "The Book" is ceremoniously carried into the Golden Temple at 4am and then returned in the evening. And - here's the interesting part - that ceremony is covered live every day by satellite! So we saw a tape of today's ceremony. Below is more about it from

Amrit Vela
Amrit Vela means the pre-dawn moment. It is actually the time when the watch strikes four o'clock in the morning. The pilgrims wake up and start preparing for a serene early morning visit to the Darbar Saheb. After reaching the temple entrance, one must take off their shoes at the 'shoes counter'. The next step is to dip one's feet at a channel of running water. On the way to the temple, there are lined up flower stalls, for one to buy garlands or just fresh flowers for offering...

This link tells you more about the Golden Temple and has spectacular photos that give you a better sense of the whole temple grounds.

Here's a link that tells you a little about the Sikh religion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.