Golden Temple and the Friendliest People With Knives
Amritsar Travel Blog› entry 7 of 37 › view all entries
My first peddle rickshaw through the dusty, smoggy, smokey streets of Amritsar was both frightening and exhilarating. Bicycles, cars, trucks, and motorcycles overtook us with a warning horn, while others sped directly at us only to avert our certain death by mere inches The horns, and engines, the men in turbans with dark beards talking loudly, men squatting behind boiling vats of white-milky substances, hot oil sizzling brown dough, and the rattle of the rickshaw created a cacophonous symphony of sound and feeling. I was in a carnival, a moving sea of people and vehicles.
The first stop after checking in at MK Sood Guest House was to see the Golden Temple. Already it was 11:00 pm, but we wanted to see something after being cooped on the bus.
In the quiet sanctuary by the pool surrounding the temple, fathers and young sons sat and talked, prayed, and spent time together. Men in Turbans bathed, some chanted, and some walked the marble causeway around the pool.
After bidding him goodbye, I returned to walking around the Temple. Shortly thereafter, 6 boys in their 20s surrounded Dan and I. Eager to practice English and more excited to meet Americans, the next 2 hours were filled with laughter and conversation as we circled the Golden Temple. In spite of all the attention, the sanctity of the place imbued everything with a spirituality and calm. After they left, we were again left to the stillness.
On Friday, we returned in daylight to absorb the Temple and to see its inner sanctum. Sikh holy music filled the courtyard, men, and women in colorful saris, fluttered about in a dance of prostration. Inside the temple itself, 3 men played music. People sat, circumvented, meditated, brought offerings in banana leave-looking bowls, and prayed. Sikh men read from holy books. I found a spot at the top level, listening to the music from below, words from before me, and with others sitting beside me, meditated. I couldn't find the quiet selfless place like at the Vipassana center, so i just sat still and let this holy place, its devotees friendliness and generosity and its sacred shrine pour over me.
I ran into David and another friend from Vipassana and joined them at the free lunch provided by the Sikhs.
That afternoon I went to see the changing of the guards at the Pakistan/India border (Tavi/Wagh) which was a spectacle of rivalry and show. The crowd, pumped up and dancing, cheered in good-natured fun that India is the best. Pakistan did the same on the other side.
I also quickly visited Jullianwala Bagh, a small park to commemorate that 2000 Indians killed or wounded by British authorities in 1919.
May all beings be happy... :)