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Over 100,000 served daily……………

March 8, 2010

Wouldn’t that be fun if that was the number of people who read my blog everyday? Alas, it is not.  In fact, a year and a half into this great blog adventure, I am barely approaching 100k visitors. One hundred thousand is the number of people that are served free food every single day at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. I did not realize until this trip that every single Sikh Temple (Gurudwara) has a kitchen to feed anyone who comes there to eat. No one who is hungry is turned away. That is amazing. I only have to feed five people and sometimes I struggle with that – and I have a cook. Yikes.

I had heard so much about the magnificence of the Golden Temple – the highest of all Sikh Temples – and was thrilled Ann and Julia were up for the trip. They survived the overnight train and we all really enjoyed Amritsar.

Everyone who enters the Golden Temple must cover their head (yep, the men too), remove their shoes, and wash their feet. Because the water was in a marble basin area, I thought it was going to be freezing – but it was delightfully warm.

These guards stand watch and I believe they know the history of the Golden Temple and are also meant to help anyone with questions.

The name Amritsar means “nectar of mortality” and the man-made lake around the Golden Temple is thought to be filled with immortal nectar. While we were visiting the temple, we saw many men bathing in the water, drinking the water, and/or placing droplets of water on their heads. The women have their own section that is in a building to ensure their privacy and so that crazy bloggers won’t take their picture and post them on the internet for all the world to see.

You might notice that these men have daggers in their turbans. Many Sikh men carry with them 5 things that symbolize their allegiance to the Sikh faith. These things are known as the 5 Ks and they are:

Kesh is uncut hair on the head and body, symbolizing acceptance of God’s will. Apparently more contemporary Sikh’s do not necessarily follow this rule.
Kachh is a white cotton undergarment. It is practical in battle, and therefore symbolizes moral strength and chastity.
Kara is a steel bracelet symbolizing responsibility and allegiance to God. It is also my understanding that the bracelet can protect the owner’s wrist in battle and is a constant reminder to do the right thing – the hand shall not be used for any wrong-doing.
Kangha
is a wo0den comb that represents personal care and cleanliness. Plastic combs cannot be used because they are more likely to pull out hairs.
Kirpan is a steel dagger, a symbol of resistance against evil and defense of truth.

Every Sikh is asked to do all that they can to make a pilgrimage to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) at least once in their lifetime. And the temple receives 200,000 visitors each day. To accommodate those traveling to the Golden Temple, there is an entire building with rooms for sleeping and the most unbelievable soup kitchen I have ever seen. Both of which are free to visitors. These are just some of the plates.

I know some of my germ-o-phobic friends are thinking Holy Swine Flu, Batman, how many hands are touching those plates. But each plate, cup, and all utensils are washed 5 times before they are put back into rotation. The temple has 3,000 volunteers who come everyday to help out.

I think this might have been the dahl.

This is the main dining hall. You bring an empty plate and sit on the floor and you can have as many helpings as you would like.

Julia asked if we could help out and they put us to work making chapatis. The woman helping me just shook her head and laughed (a lot). I don’t think I will be opening a chapati stall anytime soon. They were all crooked and uneven. I finally got up when I realized she could make 10 chapatis in the time she was “helping” me make one. I was way dumbin’ her way, way down. But I would sincerely argue that it was difficult to keep my big arse scarf out of the way – they should really just consider hair nets. ;-) Julia was much, much better at it. They were actually sad to see her go.

After we made handmade chapatis for the masses, they showed us this machine that can make something like 3,000 chapatis an hour.

There are some things at the temple that are supposed to bring you good luck. One is if fish swim up to where you are standing. Notice 3 fish – 3 friends. That was lovely.

Then this blackbird landed on the branch while we were standing nearby. There was only one bird, but we took three pictures of it just in case.

And then there is this tree. It is the jubi tree and was planted by the first head priest over 450 years ago. It is believed to have very special powers and women who do not have children tie a ribbon on it for good luck. (Please do not even ask me if we tied ribbons.) It still grows fruit but no one is allowed to pick it. It is simply amazing to me that this tree is older than the United States.

This post is getting much longer than I thought it would be so I am going to say goodbye for now and finish up tomorrow. Nite nite.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 9:30 pm

    Hi I enjoyed reading this. My son went as well and one thing that stayed with me from his visit was the almost musical noise of the metal plates being washed in those enormous bins . I must go soon too. MM

  2. March 8, 2010 3:47 pm

    What a wonderful way to participate. Beautiful pictures.

  3. March 8, 2010 11:24 am

    …and I will wait patiently for the rest because so far it is fascinating stuff. The 5Ks was very enlightening. And the free food. I’m so in!
    looking forward to more!
    loco

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