Amritsar is known for it’s history especially for the impact of the partition (subject of a future blog), and as the home of the Golden Temple. It is the Vatican to the Sikhs, with all the splendour and ceremony and reverence.
More than a visit, our time was a pilgrimage witnessing the devotion and passion of the Sikh community to the place and the beliefs. We were accompanied by a guide who seemed to mix history with religious expectations and personal philosophy as Mirander walked us through the gates and into the palace of gold. Two elements of dress were required: your head needed to be covered (my hat did not count) and you must walk in barefoot. I don’t recall an explanation for either but it created a sense of humbleness.
The temple itself was a scene of singing and prayer, bodies limp in adoration, heads bowed in deference, voices raised in joy. We walked around the centre where elders (?) chanted, many responded, while others lay prone. And people kept moving as many, many more were behind and following for their time. Regardless of your own beliefs, religious or otherwise, devout or sceptical, the place inspired reflection of ones place within the world, questions of one self and our role, conscious or not.
Our day tour included a back room look at the 24 hour kitchen which serves 80,000 people each day with food and drink. It is the most demonstrative action of the Sikh devotion to service. Volunteers working like a human machine to provide the sustenance to the relentless throngs.
To describe our experience as unforgettable would somehow diminish it.
Awe inspiring is better…
Spiritual. Yes, spiritual.