One of the moist beautiful temples in Delhi is the Lotus Temple of the Baha’i Faith. It is listed as one of the most visited buildings in the world, surpassing even the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.
The structure has won many architectural awards for it’s design, which depicts a lotus flower. It is surrounded by nine pools of water and the interior is very cool, even on a hot day. Each Baha’i temple has nine sides and nine doors. The cavernous interior is 40 feet high and can hold up to 2500 worshipers. On Hindu holy days the attendance surpasses 150,000 per day.
The temple is closed on Mondays, so please plan your visit accordingly.
The Baha’i faith is from Persia and they welcome everyone into their meditation sanctuary.
When my friends Nitin and Richa told me we were going to pick up their new Honda I had no idea if would be so different than buying a new car in the USA.
They were excited about the new car because it’s still a very big deal to purchase new vehicles in India, where most people don’t even own a car at all.
The dealership makes a very big deal out of the purchase. Upon arriving they presented Richa with a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. They put bows on all the doors and the hood, and covered the car with a red covering to be taken off when the customer is ready to drive away.
Photos are taken of the transfer of the keys and then a priest comes and spends almost an hour blessing the car, to ensure that no harm comes to those that occupy the vehicle and to offer gratitude to the Gods for the ability to buy a new car.
He draws a swastika on the hood with sindoor as a sign of auspiciousness, luck, and good fortune. Then he scatters marigold and flower petals all over the inside and outside of the car. He also blows incense smoke over the car to bless it. Finally he lays lemons under each of the tires so that when they are smashed they scare away bad spirits.
I think I was very lucky to be there to witness this very different delivery of a new car. Congratulations to my friends Nitin, Richa and Nitisha!
By the way, most cars here run on diesel fuel which gives them very good gas mileage, since petrol is more expensive here than in the States.
By far the most unusual looking temple I have visited in Ahmedabad has to be the Vaishno Devi Temple. It is devoted to Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Kali, the three incarnates of Goddess Vaishno Devi. Devotees from around the world visit this replica of the original shrine, located in Jammu-Kashmir.
The temple is built to resemble a stony mountain and represents the cave dwelling of the girl named Kumari, later known as Vaishnavi. Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, visited the forest and mountain where Vaishnavi lived, and she pleaded with him to allow her to merge with the Supreme Creator Lord Vishnu. Rama told her it was not the right time for her but directed her to set up an ashram at the base of the Trikuta Hills. That shrine is located in Jammu-Kashmir. She was instructed to elevate her level of spirituality and to bless mankind and alleviate the sufferings of the poor and destitute.
People came to receive her blessings and Bhairon Nath, a disciple of Tantrik Gorakh Nath, was sent to determine at what level of spirituality Vaishnavi had ascended to. He fell in love with her and attempted to steal her away for himself. The Goddess forgave him and told her followers that from now on they must have Darshan (worship) with Bairon after they had Darshan with the Goddess, in order to receive yatra (a Hindu pilgrimage). Vaishnavi then left her human form and fused with the rock and entered a meditative state eternally.
Today I stopped at a beautiful temple which was constructed by the followers of Dada Bhagwan (Lord of the whole universe). The sect was started by A.M. Patel, who professed he received enlightenment in 1958 while sitting on a railway station bench in Surat, Gujarat. This one hour epiphany supplied him with all the answers to all of life’s big questions, like: who is God?, why am I here?, who created the world?, what is karma?, who oversees the management of the world?
This sect believes their philosophy and their manner of worship can bring happiness and enlightenment to all those that take part. Their aim is to provide permanent happiness to all those that follow them. They claim this can be done within two hours. I’m not here to editorialize so I won’t give you my opinion on this.
I met some very nice and seemingly happy people at this temple.
They also have a nice cafe for lunch.
This sect has mandirs (temples) all over the world and one under construction in New Jersey. Their official website is: http://www.trimandir.org
This shrine is built to honor Hanuman, the monkey God. When the image of Hanuman was installed, it is said that Sadguru Gopalanand Swami touched it with a rod and the image came alive and moved. This rod has been preserved and it is used every Saturday in a service to help drive the evil spirits out of people and heal the afflicted.
This is just one of The International Society of Krishna Consciousness’ 600 worldwide temples. The Ahmedabad temple is a wonderful example of an ISKCON temple.
It is a beautiful shrine dedicated to promoting individual and worldwide peace. This sect was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. He was instructed by his guru to bring the Vedic teachings to the English speaking world. Their teachings are based on the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatum.
Founded in New York, the Hare Krishna Movement, as it began to be called, prospered and grew and there were 108 temples when the founder died, just 11 years later. The organization runs food relief programs in dozens of cities around the world.
Today I took a cab to the Gandhi Ashram, a beautiful site where Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba lived from 1930 to 1933, when the British led government seized the property. Gandhi vowed to return to the ashram when India’s freedom was won, but sadly he was assassinated just 5.5 months after the August 15, 1947 Independence.
The site covers 6 acres and includes the home where Gandhi and his wife lived, some buildings where Gandhi arranged farming and animal husbandry classes, and a wonderful museum and library staffed with scholars, consisting of 35,000 books, writings, and letters of Gandhi ji.
Located on the side of the Sabamati River, the prayer site is a shaded sandy area where Gandhi would take questions and offer prayers morning and evening. Personally, I could still feel Gandhi’s feet in that sand as I walked where one of the greatest proponents of non-violent protest had also walked.
Some Indians I have spoken to have no kind words for Gandhi. They feel he gave away too much of India in the quest for Independence.
Whatever you have to say about Gandhi’s role in the political process of Partition, at least you have to acknowledge that his non-violent tactics saved India a great deal of bloodshed. He is one of my personal heroes for his peaceful ways of protesting.
The official site of Gandhi Ashram is: http://gandhiashramsabarmati.org/en/