Day 29: Open-Minded
The last field trip.
The last field trip with my British Culture and Society Class was to a Sikh Temple, known as Gurdwara. Now we've known about this trip since the beginning of the class but I don't think anyone (or at least me) was expecting to feel so... enlightened. Before this trip I have never even heard of this religion before.
Maybe because I didn't see past myself or Maybe I didn't even think of considering educating myself about what else is out there.
We pulled up to the temple by coach bus and the building was massive. In Southhall, where the Gurdwara is located, the town is nicknamed "Little India" due to the fact that 65% of the population of the people who live here are Sikhs. The Gurdwara itself is one of the biggest outside of India as well. Now we didn't notice this when we walked up (probably because we were all on our phones) but outside of every Gurdwara is a flag.
The Flag is mandatory for EVERY Gurdwara to have and it shows that they are in fact a Sikh Temple and that they stand for justice against oppression...not only justice for their own people but justice for everyone.
[I think I forgot to mention as well that Gurdwaras are open to everyone, not just people of that specific religion.]
Our guide took us into a prayer hall and spent almost an hour talking passionately about his beliefs. And it was so interesting to sit there and listen to him talk about it so freely and to answer our minuscule questions with no sign of annoyance. I learned so much from this gentleman today.
The Sikhs are people of peace and discipline. They make the decision everyday to follow in their faith by getting up between 2 and 5 am to recite five prayers before eating, as well as carrying five items on them at all times. They say their sixth prayer sometime during the day and their last prayer before they go to sleep. The Sikh religion is one of free will. You have to CHOOSE to follow in their discipline...
[Side note: They are not ones to say that THEIR religion is the one and only path to God or Heaven.]
They believe that there are many paths to heaven as long as we walk in the truth.
This can be seen in how their famous Golden Temple was constructed. The Golden Temple is actually below sea level, therefore you have to walk DOWN to get to the doors; A sign of humbling yourselves. There are doors on the all four sides of the building to display that there are many paths to God. NOW to get to these doors...there is only ONE bridge from the stairs, which symbolizes the way of truth.
Another thing that is mandatory for all Gurdwaras to have is a community kitchen. They serve food to everyone that comes into their kitchen and it's all run through volunteerism. That's another thing.
They value and practice selfless-service.
Leaving the Gurdwara I felt overwhelmed with knowledge and just enlightenment of another person's faith. I think that it is important to at least learn or educate ourselves on the differences that surround us individually and to be more open minded. Especially in the world we live in today.