Our first day in Delhi…the day started at 6 a.m. being awakened by a flock of parrots in a tree outside my room. At 7:30 the doorbell rang with a cup of chai delivered to the room. We met up with Evelyn and decided to hire a driver for the day (Jag Jeet). He made a point for us to start our day at “his temple” – one of 16 Sikh temples in Delhi. It was a fascinating glimpse into a religion that I knew little about. We started in a visitor center where we were instructed to take off our shoes and the lady in charge then tied scarves around our heads to cover our hair.
The tour began in the museum with the history of Sikhism told in a series of paintings that showed significant events in gruesome detail. The Sikh faith was founded in 1469 near Lahore Pakistan. They believe in one God and the teachings of ten gurus combined into the Sikh Holy Book. Sikhs are represented by 5 symbols being: long and unshorn hair, a special comb, a steel bracelet, a sword, and a holy undergarment.
We followed our guide down a long tent covered corridor that was full of people coming and going. On one side there were men handing out glasses of water that people were standing and drinking. We continued on past a place where people were being served some food that looked like semolina that was scooped out onto a few leaves that would cover one hand. People were also buying marigolds to take in the temple to get blessed.
We approached the temple and went up about 5 or 6 steps. People were reaching down and touching the steps and then touching their forehead. As we entered the temple people were milling about. Some families were sitting in small groups. There were three men playing music and chanting facing an altar that was covered in a gold canopy. There was a large pillow on the alter holding the Holy Book. A priest was waving what looked like a feather duster over the book. He was also laying many silk cloths on top of the book. Our guide said that these cloths would later be sold as they were then purified because of the proximity to the book.
We circled around behind all of this and then passed a glass room with what looked like a canopy bed where our guide said the book was put away every night.
Our guide then took us outside and downstairs to look at the kitchen where they prepare and serve meals for 15,000 to 20,000 every day! The faithful come in to do the cooking and put in two-hour shifts. Our guide said that anyone can eat there and there is no charge. It was truly amazing to see.