Went on an overnight sleeper train from Amritsar to Haridwar last night. What an experience. Studying Hinduism in Haridwar at Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalya university. This is the view outside my room below. If you look above the trees you can see the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. Can’t believe I am at the foothills of the Himalayas!! We are in Uttarkand province near Rishikesh, a holy place along the Ganges River. Considered “Mother Ganga” to Hindus.
I would like to post more, but we have very little “off time”. Will be working on blog as much as I can. Posting to Instagram 🙂
Learning about Sikhism in Amritsar where Sikhism’s holiest site, the Golden Temple, or “Harimandar” (house of God) as the Punjabis say is amazing.
We are staying at Guru Nanak Dev University. The hospitality and friendliness that Sikhs are known for certainly is on display here! I have attended wonderful “Kirtan” services two mornings with singing hymns in the gurudwara (Sikh temple).
We have attended classes and visited the Golden Temple. We will be going to a sad site of the 1919 Massacre at Amritsar called “Jallianwala Bagh” by Punjabis. My students from World Cultures class will remember the scene from the movie Gandhi when the British army killed 400 and injured over 1000 Indians who were gathering peacefully for a holiday near the Golden Temple in a garden. “Bagh” means Garden. I will also have time for shopping tomorrow. Yay! I must say I am dying for a cold Diet Coke and another Starbucks! We will get to see the Golden Temple during daytime too.
I have had very little internet service provided in Amritsar, so I have not been updating the blog. You can visit Instagram for more pics. Follow me @epalladino359
I plan to Blog more when I get to the next stop in Haridwar where we will study Hinduism. Hoping to get reliable internet.
It is really late at night here and I have had a long, long day. We saw three temples and an ashram (community of monks, nuns, and lay people living together to study religion), Had lunch at the director of the program’s house in Delhi ( beautiful home and wonderful lunch). Thanks to Dr. Shugan Jain and his wife Uma for hosting us. We almost didn’t have time for the Gandhi Museum…but thank god we did because I did not want to miss it. Sadly, the museum is on the grounds where Gandhi led his last prayer meeting and was assassinated by a Hindu extremist who did not agree with Gandhi’s politics. It was beautiful though and very emotional for me. Anyone who knows me at all, especially my ninth grade world cultures students knows that I am obsessed with Gandhi and so this was a pilgrimage of sorts. A few pics. the words at the bottom of the statue say in Hindi “my life is my message”…
After shopping we had lunch at a nice restaurant that served Southern Indian food which is different from Northern Indian food. My knowledge and experience with Indian food is elementary for sure. I have to be honest that I don’t like most of it, but this trip is all about trying new things! The meal is served with soups, dips and chutneys that go with the food. I had coffee with ice cream in it which was like a frappe for dessert.
We then went to the National Museum of Modern Art and we had perfect timing because it began to downpour (think monsoon) while we were inside. For India apparently “Modern Art” starts around the 1500s. When your history goes back to roughly 2500 BCE, I guess 1500s CE is modern. I know that my sister Nancy would have loved this museum ❤️ There were too many amazing works of art to post here, but these are some of my favorites
By the time we were done at the museum it had stopped raining. Perfect timing! We then went to a nature center (or habitat) as it was called and saw beautiful plant life and trees mixed with sculpture and water fountains. I thought this tree was beautiful and I wish I had found out the name of the type of tree. That is one of our “guides” Aashi who is a very talented young woman and also excellent shopper for clothes.
After the habitat we went to Lodhi Gardens which has ruins of a gateway and mosque from pre-Mughal Empire Dynasty of Muslim rulers named Lodhi. The ruins were fascinating to look at and wander through. The park was filled with families, joggers, dogs, tourists, and kids playing. These teenagers photo bombed my selfie with the gateway. It’s one of my favorite pictures so far.
The new friends I have made on this trip made my day in Delhi all the more special. The other “scholars” (as they are calling us) on the trip are all wonderful people, each with something to add to the experience. They all indulged me with a picture in front of Starbucks 🙂
Thursday July 5th
Some in our group decided to go to some temples and other sites, but I was dying to get into Delhi. The International School for Jain Studies campus is beautiful, but I wanted to venture out (of course with a group…I promised my family I would be safe). One of our group leaders Christopher Chapple from Loyola Marymount University organized our trip into Delhi. I am not sure that I would be able to navigate the city without people who are experienced with travel in India. We hired two taxis for ten of us to drive us around all day into the night. Divided 10 ways it was only Rs. 500 (500 rupees) each which is equivalent to $7.35. The current exchange rate is 68 rupees to the dollar. Once again the taxi ride was harrowing as the cars seem to drive millimeters from each other with motorcycles weaving in and out. I took all of these pictures from the taxi.
We went straight to shopping at Fab India which is very much like a department store. Kind of like a Nordstrom in the US. I wanted to buy some clothes and the women there help you shop. I wanted to get three Kurtis which are long shirt like dresses with block printing and embroidery and all kinds of designs. I also needed pants and some long scarfs called dupattas that women wear in many different ways with Kurtis and Salwar kameez. I ended up with three outfits and two beautiful dupattas. It was so fun shopping. I also got some souvenirs and the prices were quite reasonable. Honestly, it was too hot to bargain out in the street! It was around 100 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 110! I also got to go to Starbucks which everyone knows is my favorite.
Arrived last night at 11:30 pm Delhi time after a 19 hour trip tired, but filled with anticipation. When I arrived at the airport it was hot, busy, and crowded.
I got my baggage, exchanged some currency and had an hour drive to the International School of Jain Studies University where I am staying. Driving in the taxi was a harrowing experience. I went to put on my seat belt, and Shivam, the man from the university accompanying me said, “there is no need”. I’m not even sure it worked. The taxis weave in and out of the trucks traffic at very high speeds. They beep at each other a lot!
I fell asleep immediately! Breakfast at 8:00 was cornflakes, toast and bananas served buffet style. I was surprised to learn that we remove our shoes to eat even though we were eating at tables.
Jains are vegetarians and do not eat any meat due to their strict belief in “ahimsa” or nonviolence. My favorite thing at lunch was these round things that resemble meatballs (which of course was not meatballs). They are made from chick peas and fried and were in a slightly spicy sauce.
The Campus is beautiful with a main temple, dormitories and classrooms. Hoping to get a picture of the peacocks that roam the campus. Haven’t seen one yet. Wait, Just saw one!
Spent most of the day being introduced to Jainism and its rituals, festivals, and ceremonies. Daily worship is called “puja”. It involves mantras (recitations) and reverence of twenty four Tirthankaras who are considered enlightened humans who taught the Jain path before becoming liberated from the cycle of rebirth. The last being Lord Mahavira who lived in the 500s BCE. These Tirthankaras are also known as “exemplars” as their lives are examples for Jains to live their lives along the path.
Hoping to get a full night’s sleep tonight to help with the jet lag. Wish there was a Starbucks nearby, but sadly there is not. The chai tea is a lovely substitute.
Just checked out the weather forecast in Delhi for this week and it’s hot! Don’t worry, it cools off to the 90s when I am there next week. I am hoping to buy some clothes there. Everyone says that the clothes there are best suited for the climate. I have never turned down a chance to go shopping!
Just three weeks until I leave for India. Studying the four dharmic traditions of India in four cities. Jainism in Delhi, Sikhism in Amritsar, Hinduism in Haridwar, and Buddhism in Sarnath. Can’t wait to leave on this adventure!