Text by Patty Simon
India has many religions – Hinduism with 33 million gods and goddesses, Buddhism with the teachings of Buddha and Christianity brought in from the western world.
As we were driving around Delhi, our guide quickly mentioned we were passing a Sikh temple – all in white marble. I knew nothing about Sikhism so we asked for a tour.
Before I describe what I saw and learned, I want to say that religion in this country is a spectacle and quite spectacular!!! Outside I see what looks like overpopulation on the streets with many poor, homeless, disabled or barely getting by folks who are hauling, hawking, or begging to stay alive. Inside the temple is white marble, crystal chandeliers and at the center is a solid gold shrine draped in marigolds and roses holding the holy book. There is no god, just a book filled with many teachings.
Now, we were graciously given a tour and told many interesting facts about the history and nature of this belief system but I am not an expert so will refrain from becoming a teacher.
What I want to tell you is this. Next to the main prayer hall are several rooms for feeding the poor. Volunteers of every socio-economic group (even the very rich) come to make 3 daily meals to feed over 20,000 every day. Everyone is welcome no matter what the belief. Our guide said you can’t be expected to pray if you are hungry. There is a kitchen with pots big enough to cook me, an automatic naan maker spitting out 800 kg. of bread a day and a sweet made of wheat, caramel, sugar and oil. There is a room where other volunteers shine everyone’s shoes. There is a bar outside where men are continuously pouring glasses of water for the crowds (not quite to our hygienic standards!).
I don’t know that much about Sikhism and I’m not all that religious but the amount of good they do for the needy each day was so heartwarming that I ended up giving our guide a big hug.