Monday, August 06, 2012

The Golden Temple - Harmandir Sahib - Amritsar - India

The massacre at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin is especially despicable because the Sikh religion espouses goodness in life...

(I have copied these quotes out of Wikipedia, but Ernest learned much of this on his visit.)

Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a "Sant-Sipāhī"—a saint-soldier. One must have control over one's internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. A Sikh must also have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of religion, colour, caste or creed.

Guru Nanak stressed now kirat karō: that a Sikh should balance work, worship, and charity, and should defend the rights of all creatures, and in particular, fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have a chaṛdī kalā, or optimistic, view of life. Sikh teachings also stress the concept of sharing—vaṇḍ chakkō—through the distribution of free food at Sikh gurdwaras (laṅgar), giving charitable donations, and working for the good of the community and others (sēvā).

Ernest had the privilege of volunteering at the Langar of the Harmandir Sahib or “Golden Temple,” the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion on July 21st.

Langar (PunjabiਲੰਗਰHindiलंगर) is the term used in the Sikh religion or in Punjab in general for common kitchen/canteen where food is served in a Gurdwara to all the visitors (without distinction of background) for free. At the langar, only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat as equals. Langar is open to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.

At the gurdwara (temple) in Amritsar (Punjab, India), Ernest learned that the Sikhs believe one should not pray on an empty stomach.  The Langar, the kitchen where communal meals are served before prayers, prepares many thousands of meals a day.  All are welcome to eat, regardless of their personal faith.  

Volunteers of all faiths are welcome, with a few simple rules...
  • Maintaining the purity of the sacred space and of one's body while in it:
    • Upon entering the premises, removing one's shoes (leaving them off for the duration of one's visit) and washing one's feet in the small pool of water provided;
    • Not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or smoking cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine
  • Dressing appropriately:
    • Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect) (the gurdwara provides head scarves for visitors who have not brought a suitable covering);
    • Not wearing shoes (see above).
  • How to act:
    • One must also sit on the ground while in the Darbar Sahib as a sign of deference to both the Guru Granth Sahib and God.

Ready to serve, feet bare and heads covered.

In the picture below, Ernest is hunched over in a grey t-shirt, just above the chartreuse turban towards the left.

Chopping onions.

Most of these photos thanks to leader Lori Bostick.

Our hearts go out to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It's so sad--I just can't fathom the hate some people have in themselves.

Barb said...

The senseless, needless loss just leaves me breathless. And the idea that you and I could be just living our lives--worshipping at our place of worship, going to the movies with our kids, sending our children off to school, going to hear a political candidate speak--and be gunned down by an ill-informed, narrow-minded extremist just fills me with unspeakable sadness. At what point did civil discourse simply disappear in favor of this kind of thuggery?

Gary's third pottery blog said...

jeez, just so many guns, hatreds and ignorance in America....

Janet said...

The Sikhs sound like pretty cool people.

I saw an interview with the shooters ex-stepmom and she was just in shock, saying but he was such a nice little boy. Made me think of all the ones who might have been nice little boys (and girls) and what the heck happened to them.

Anonymous said...

Hatred blinds people. It blinds them to truth, it blinds them to kindness, it blinds them to sanity.

I confess that I waited 24 hours to even allow myself to read of this tragedy. It came on the heels of a joyous family occasion and I didn't want to shatter my lenses of goodness, love, and acceptance.

As I read your post, I could see my 19yo son as a Sikh. I could see many of us at the Women's Colony as Sikhs. And I wish I could somehow comfort my fellow human beings in this awful tragedy.
I imagine this has hit Ernest and his fellow PtoP travelers pretty hard.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

That anonymous comment was me.

Aunt Snow said...

Such a terrible thing to happen in Wisconsin.

How lucky for Earnest to become involved this way. How did he get connected to them?

Interestingly, at work I just took a call from a gentleman who is an organizer of Sikh activities in southern California, to talk about presenting an event.

Life with Kaishon said...

I was truly disheartened by what happend this weekend. What a scary world we live in.

Jason, as himself said...

Yes, unreal. Unreal.

Great photos and great experiences for Ernest!