worth the weight in amritsar
An inverted lotus flower hangs over Amritsar’s famous Golden Temple. It’s believed that the symbolic golden dome is gilded with 750kg (1163lb) of pure gold and as Nari Blackett discovered, appreciating the spiritual atmosphere of the temple is worth more than its weight in gold…
“From my first glimpse of the Golden Temple I was captivated. Eerie, melodic singing and drumming filtered through the night air as I saw the temple lit up from all sides with its reflection shimmering in the surrounding water. We had arrived in Amritsar in the evening and headed straight to the holiest Sikh temple for the ‘passing of the book’ ceremony. Every night from 9pm, hundreds of Sikhs turn out to pray, show their respects and put their sacred book to bed.
The next day we went back, this time to be greeted by thousands of Sikhs – the women all in their brightest saris, the men with their colourful turbans and a handful of Sikhs with massive swords attached to their belts. Men and children were bathing in the holy waters surrounding the temple, the children squealing in delight while men ceremoniously prayed.
We were then ushered into a massive dining hall for a meal that is provided free to anyone who visits the temple. Bowls, plates and spoons were shoved into our hands before being ushered quickly into the hall to grab a space on the floor with about 1,000 other people. Men came around with buckets of lentils, beans and creamed rice and as many chapatis as you could possibly eat. After about 15 minutes of frantic dining, we were rushed out so the volunteers could give the floor a quick clean before the next sitting arrived. Catering for all these pilgrims is no mean feat, as they serve about 40,000 people every day.
I don’t think my eyes had ever registered so many colours. I was fascinated with the great people-watching, in awe of the spiritual dedication and mesmerised by my amazing experience of India’s Golden Temple!”
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* photo by Sudip Roychoudhury – Intrepid Photography Competition