As a volunteer for Leave UR Mark I am working out of Bangalore, one of the major cities in India. My particular project involves interviewing women artisans from several parts of India so I go out of the city quite often but after traveling solo for such a long time it’s nice to know that I come back to Bangalore to my LUM home with my fellow volunteers.
Leave Ur Mark has really made me feel at home when away from home, and it’s all thanks to the amazing people I met on the program, they are the coolest. We plan out some weekend trips together away from the busy city but we also explore Bangalore and spend time out during the weekdays. One of our activities was getting the temple experience. Of course you will walk into millions of temples when in India but we wanted a full episode, so we headed out to our nearest temple which is Iskcon temple in Bangalore and spent a couple of hours there.
The traditional hindu worship is referred to as Puja which means adoration and is guided always by a priest for as long as he sees fit. First the priest must purify himself and the space. He then starts the chanting which is in Sanskrit and through hand gestures he prays to the Deity to come and dwell into his physical representation in the temple wether it is an image or a sculpture. The Deity is then offered water, raw rice, ash, sandalwood paste and kumkum. Sometimes cleansing liquids like coconut and rosewater will be poured over the deity as a ritual bath but most of the times the deity is just dressed in new clothes and decorated with flowers. Incense, food and flowers are then offered by the priests while chanting over 100 names of the God while the devotees seat on the floor singing devotional songs. Finally a large lamp is waved before the deity’s image in order for the Deity to send this power out to the devotees. The lamp is then carried out to the worshipers to receive the blessing and donations are usually made on a little tray.
Many if not most temples will have certain days, mostly weekends, where free food is offered to any devotees or visitors. It would be rude to decline a dish so just ask for a little bit and enjoy a traditional indian dish.
Temples are all very unique in their own little way but they are built to resemble the traditional styles found in India, here are the main features:
-A central shrine for the main Deity
-Secondary shrines for the other worshiped Deities
-The structure has no basement
-Secondary rooms, separate from the main worship area, for activities, food and shops.
Tips before entering a hindu temple:
-Dress modestly, nor shorts or short skirts.
-Remove your shoes before entering
-Do not enter the shrines without an invitation
-Do not sit with your feet pointing toward the Deities or another person
-Avoid any demonstrations of affection with men and try to sit separately