Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Golden Temple of Amritsar: A Unique Experience

Golden Temple of Amritsar is one of the best experiences we have had in India. It is a very special place in which one feels part of something immense.

Humandir Sahib (real name of the temple) was built between 1588 and 1604 by the guru Arjan Dev. In it is Adi Granth which is the sacred text of Sikhism and is the holiest temple of the Sikh religion. So all the followers of religion must visit it at least once in their life.

Golden Temple volunteers activities for serving food to thousands of peoples

The temple is made up of four large walls that make up a square. In each of these walls, it has a door, representing its opening in all directions. Its shape is no coincidence, it is built with the Sikh maxim of welcoming everyone who wants to visit it.

Lungar Hall for serving foods to the peoples

It doesn’t matter what your religion, nationality or race is. Everyone is invited and that is why every day it feeds around 100,000 people for free. Within the walls is the sacred pool called Amritsar which means “nectar pool” and at its center is the Gurdwara. Where the sacred texts are housed. Gurudwara contains gold and precious stones (hence the nickname of the temple). You can see inside it the texts are recited as a song. The prayer is relayed throughout the temple through loudspeakers and screens.

Also through television and radio, so that all Sikh faithful can follow him from anywhere. Even in a pedestrian area near the temple, giant screens are installed where they broadcast the prayer live.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in India

Food preparation at Golden Temple of Amritsar

Golden Temple of Amritsar has been the most organized institution we have seen in India. And surely one of the most organized in the world. To feed 100,000 people a day, it cannot be otherwise. With a simple walk inside one can feel the temple working like a greased machine. The kitchens don’t rest all day, the pots are so big that you could swim in them. And there are always people preparing food, be it cutting onions, shelling cereals, or chopping carrots. The dishwashing area is huge and its noise is as if it were your heart. And the best thing about all this is that all the people who work here are volunteers.

When one goes to eat, the organization continues. On the way to the dining rooms, several people are in charge of distributing a metal plate (typical dish for the Tali), a spoon and a bowl per person. In the 2 large dining rooms (they are building more) people are sitting on the floor in large rows. Drawing a picture of perfect geometries.

It is impossible to count how many people can eat at the same time. But the images (sometimes) are worth more than a thousand words.

Once seated in the dining room, the machinery continues to function. The volunteers come by with a kind of pots full of food and they serve you with a very long spoon. It is incredible the handling of these people to serve food, walking the corridors that are between rows of people. Perhaps the most curious is one of those who serve water.

Chai Prasad with unique idea

Although some still follow the old fashion. This one carries a water tank on a cart with a very ingenious mechanism. It is a tap connected to what would be the handle of a bicycle brake, opening and closing the tap when it “brakes” with it.

The food is very simple but it is delicious. It is the best Tali we have eaten in all of India, especially the rice pudding that is spectacular. In addition to the “famous rice pudding”, Tal, Dal and chapati serve you. Some days they change the type of stew, but lentils, rice and chapati never fail. And for Chai “fans”, this is paradise. Since there are always two giant tanks full of warm Chai. Which according to many people is also one of the best in India. The secret surely lies in the amount of sugar they put in it. But as Sikhs think of everything, there is also Chai without sugar.

Dishes collect after food

When leaving, several people are in charge of collecting the dirty dishes. And forming a chain they send them to giant sinks. And there other volunteers are in charge of washing them.

As if feeding all these people were not enough, you can also sleep (yes, free). For tourists like us, they have a separate room, consisting of 23 beds and a room for bathing. In the same building, there are many other rooms for the Indians. Normally it is not enough with all these rooms and since in the temple, no one is rejected.

In the inner courtyard, mats are placed and blankets are distributed for anyone who has no room in any room. The bathrooms are gigantic and always very clean. There you can find all types of toilets, from the latrine to the western style.

Kadah Prasad

Entrance to the temple, like everything else, is free. Although it works with donations, not only from the people who visit it, but also from all the followers of the Sikh religion in the world. As I said before, everyone is welcome, as long as you follow a series of rules. These are simple and with their usual organization, they will help you carry it out.

First, you have to take off your shoes, but don’t worry, they have lockers where the volunteers will store your shoes while you visit the temple. Another of the main rules is to cover your hair and for this, they offer you scarves on all the doors of the temple, in case you do not have your own. The rest of the rules are pretty obvious, like dressing “normal,” not drinking alcohol, not smoking, and behaving appropriately. A curious rule is, that in case you sit around the pool,

Within the water, there are some barriers delimiting a bathing area, where you can see the Sikhs doing a kind of ritual while bathing, to purify themselves. For women there are some booths inside the sacred pool as a locker room, so they can bathe and purify themselves without anyone seeing them.

Inside image of Golden Temple

Inside the Golden Temple of Amritsar atmosphere that is breathed is impressive. When one walks around the sacred pool, the feeling of peace and tranquility is exceptional. Scattered around the Golden Temple are giant screens showing the prayers they are singing so you can follow them as you listen to them over the speakers.

These prayers, with their catchy music of timpani and harmonies, form an important part of the spiritual atmosphere that is breathed. You just need to sit near the water and contemplate the temple in all its splendor, enjoying that peace and tranquility.

It is a unique experience that we recommend to everyone, for us it has been one of those places that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

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