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jana, February 12, 2011 in The Big Picture Window
The Golden Temple obviously attracts a lot of Sikh ascetics.
Pilgrims come in all shapes and sizes, and ages.
The only thing that a Sikh holy place asks of visitors is that they cover their heads, whether they are men or women. So visitors have to take their shoes and socks off, and then men who don't wear turbans put a scarf on their heads while women generally wrap shawls/scarves around themselves. It's ironically very Muslim. Ironic because much of Sikhism is about putting up a resistance to the Muslim Mughals. However, there are occasional tourists from the Middle East, I was told. Also, there are some who are (mysteriously) considered Middle Eastern.
Along with the openness towards visitors, the other thing I love about Sikhism is that it encourages volunteer work. The gurudwara is mostly run by volunteer workers. People volunteer to clean the compound, wash up dishes, the works. This man was washing the steps leading down to the lake.
These ladies were washing the glasses used to give pilgrims water.
This guy with the long bamboo pole mystified me for a while. Then I realised, he was using the bamboo to clean the scum off the top of the water.
Financial donations are encouraged but not massive amounts. I think there's something about giving only what you earn in a day, and instead of money if you give a day to the gurudwara by doing something like helping clean the place, that is more appreciated. But you can see names and donations inscribed upon a lot of the marble slabs. These generally are given in the memory of some family members or just as a donation.
(The one above is written in Urdu, by the way. This doesn't mean that the donors were Muslim. A lot of Punjabis wrote in Urdu since half of Punjab is in modern-day Pakistan.)
The importance of the Golden Temple comes from the belief that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, used to sit by what was originally a small lake and preach. After his death, his followers kept coming here. Later Gurus of Sikhism enlarged the lake and it finally became what it is now.
Many people who come here make it a point to take a dip. When we were there, the water must have been FREEZING. But that wasn't enough to stop the faithful.
I had no idea that the lake had some serious fish in there.
ok, rushing forward after a long break.
this is what i saw first thing in the morning: a shaft of sunlight through the curtains.
this was the passage/hallway right outside our room.
for some reason, i got slightly obsessed with getting a shot of our bathroom in the dark. don't ask me why. there was something about the yellow light from the outside and the darkness inside. anyway, point is, i got up mid-conversation and spent ten minutes in the bathroom trying to click pictures. given at this point the bathroom was very much hobbie's domain, this could have been a delicate situation but all i have to show for it ultimately are these pictures.
after 48 hours, hobbie finally rose from the bed and was able to waddle to the golden temple. the moment she got there, she started clicking.
now for some random photos, taken with hobbie on our last day in amritsar.
as usual, there were random people who wanted to take photos with hobbie. i decided that i should start a collection of the photos that hobbie's taken with strangers.
in this one, you can see me, in a manner of speaking. i'm the shadow on irma's back.
and here are hobbie and i, doing our best impression of the punjabi chick.
then the two of us went sort of nuts.
this is the gate to enter the temple in the middle of the lake (known as the harmandir sahib). you can't take pictures in there.
the akal takht (again)
then we went back to the hotel to get some lunch into hobbie.
it was her first meal in two days.
it involved some rather photogenic onions.
we went back to catch the sunset.
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