Went into town today in Haridwar to visit the “Bharat Mata” temple that worships “mother India”. The temple has 7 stories or floors.
The temple is a testament to how cultural, religious, and political change and diversity in India has been constant and how the different religions and cultures are all nurtured by mother India. It was a temple but also sort of like a museum in that it worshipped a goddess called mother India,
but also had statues and exhibits about India’s major historical figures, information about each state in India, as well as a large model topographical map of the subcontinent.
India has 29 states. (I am currently in Uttarkand and have been in Delhi and Punjab). This temple was a good example of how secular and religious aspects mix in Indian culture and belief.
After the temple we went into town and walked through the marketplace and along the Ganga (Ganges) river. People were there for aarti and to bathe in the holy waters. There were also kids playing in it and one woman looked to be washing her clothes.
India truly is a multi sensory experience. There are sounds everywhere of music and vehicle horns. There are large crowds and a lot of lights.
There are many smells coming from street food vendors and old trash. There is so much to look at but you have to look down because you might step in cow poop. In most of the places we’ve gone out there are people everywhere. You really get a sense of how densely populated India is walking in its cities.
One also gets a sense of how lack of infrastructure and over population has led to major problems with trash and pollution. For example, each time I tried to find a trash can for my trash, it was almost impossible to define. As an American, I would never throw my trash down on the ground, but I can see why Indians do. They have very few trash cans. One of my fellow travelers on the trip is from India originally but works as a college professor in the US. I asked her what she thought about making trash cans more available and whether or not providing more trash cans would solve or help the trash problem. She said that she thought it would help and that India could change its habits to clean up the environment.
The Ganga river is quite polluted. The water is a grayish-brown. I saw many trash items floating down the river as well as sticks and big pieces of wood. Strangely I saw quite a few flip-flops! Despite the pollution, many adults and children were immersing themselves in the river. The current is strong and the river runs fast. There is a government campaign called “Swachh Bharat” (clean India) that was launched in 2014. There are posters and signs promoting it and according to some people in my group that have been to India before, there is an improvement in the areas of trash, sanitation, and pollution. It seems to me that there is still quite a ways to go.
I will never get over the sight of cows in the middle of the street and sidewalk. They just ignore people.