– Part 2 of the travelogue Into Punjab, Golden Temple Amritsar – I’m not at all religious. I also disagree with the idea of a specific site where one can encounter God. Often times, such places are a concentration of archaic customs, misery and poverty, and businesses based on religion that I just can’t rationalize. But then, that’s my opinion. To some, such sites and pilgrimages are really a means to feel closer to the higher being, and that, I certainly respect. After all, to each her own.
It is rare that I have enjoyed being at a religious site. I can count on one hand when I’ve truly enjoyed visiting a religious destination in India- the Jageshwar temple complex close to Almora in Uttarakhand, Konark in Orissa and Omkareshwar/Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. It might have been that many of these temples are defunct, reduced to ruins or heritage sites. The absence of priests is what draws me to them. But the exception amongst them all is the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, the holiest site for Sikh across the world. And it has a lot to do with the Sikh faith. The Sikh faith revolves around equality, karma, sharing, service, brotherhood, a belief that God is without form or gender, and ‘chardi kala’, contentment and a positive attitude towards life at all times. These tenets of Sikhism manifest in every form at the Harmandir Sahib.
Before entering the complex, I handed over my shoes at the shoe deposit area and was given a token in return.
If only there was a Harmandir Sahib in every street, every corner, every neighbourhood… and every heart. At least there’s an example to strive for.
Love and peace, Minu