Blessings from a Hindu Temple

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August 2nd 2017
Published: August 4th 2017
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We had a slightly slower start after the excitement yesterday. Fortified by a breakfast of scrambled egg and vegetable curry, we set off on an auto rickshaw to Mata Lal Devi Mandar Temple in Model Town. The trip wasn't scheduled on our tour, but we had some free time and we wanted to see as much of Amaritsar as we could. It wasn't listed in the Rough Guide, but our guide had suggested it would be worth a visit and I am so glad he did - it was fantastic.

Set in the middle of a busy market, we wouldn't have come across it on our own. The Temple was extraordinary - a complete assault on all our senses. It was a very humid day, and as we got to the outside to remove our shoes, it started to rain, so that the entrance was very slippery and inside was very hot. The Hindu temple was founded by Mandar Lal Devi, an elderly lady and modern day saint. It houses an array of amazing colourful statues to many Hindu Gods in all their forms, bedecked in jewels and glass mosaics. The temple was buzzing with devotees bringing offerings to the images. It is particularly popular with women wanting to conceive as a visit is said to promote fertility.

Again, we were the only white people there and even I towered above the worshipers. We were ushered up side passage of stairs that led up to a cave-like network of grottoes. It was hot and sticky, and some of the passages were wet underfoot and quite claustrophobic, but it was worth it to see the most amazing artwork of glass mosaics and kitch-like staues of all manner of Hindi Gods. It was obviously a place of great significance, as worshippers were showing deep reverence to the statues, kissing their feet and praying to them.

Hindu monks beckoned to us to kneel down and they blessed us and pained our foreheads and thrust sugared rice in our hands. A garland of orange flowers was placed around Molly's neck.

When we had finished our tour of the caves, we were carried along with the Hindu worshippers and led into the main temple. It was noisy and chaotic, but there was an enormous energy. We sat crossed legged on the mats of the main temple, not quite sure if we should be there. The people seemed happy enough for us to be there, and we allowed ourselves be prodded and poked a few times. It was an extraordinary experience, and we left feeling very privileged to have been welcomed in to a ceremony quite unlike anthing I have experienced before.

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