We had a very full day! The first stop after yoga and breakfast was to the Lakshmi-Nayaran, a temple dedicated to the goddess of prosperity, Lakshi, and her man Nayaran (Vishnu). Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed. We had to take our shoes off and it was raining. The rain made the marble floors super slick and we all had to be very careful walking up and down the steps. Arvind did an amazing job of explaining the art and all the symbols of this beautiful temple. A temple priest anointed our foreheads with a red dot, the tikka. It represents the deep wisdom that lies within. Years ago, Gandhi was invited to inaugurate this temple. He agreed under one condition: that the untouchables be allowed entrance into Hindu temples. It was a spiritual as well as a political move on his part to unify India in his fight for independence. His request was granted: the untouchables gained entrance to the temples and Gandhi inaugurated the temple.
Our next stop was the Sikh Temple with its reflection pool and its interior space where we quietly sat to the sound of beautiful singing. We then toured the temple kitchens, which were filled with volunteers cooking huge vats of food to feed the 20,000 needy people who come daily to eat. It was incredibly moving to see the volunteers cooking. Earlier when we entered the temple, everyone was given headscarves, including the men in our group.
Next stop: the largest mosque in Old Delhi! Only the women in our group were made to cover ourselves with bright colored robes. Again, Arvind did a great job of explaining the intricacies of the mosque, the architecture, the Islamic religion, and the history of this great place of worship.
Old Delhi is pure chaos! Only photos can show you what I mean! Angel said, “Wouldn’t you just love to ask them where they are going?” Movement, horns honking, shouting, engines, throngs of people, traffic jams, shops and more shops, and rain..too bad these photos don’t come with sounds or smells, so you can get the real feel of it all!
On our way back to the hotel after visiting the Gandhi Memorial, where Gandhi was cremated and where a fire burns day and night, out of the blue, Arvind asked us over the microphone, “Who here likes Rum?” I never saw so many hands shoot straight up in the air so quickly! He was quite amused and impressed by the quick show of hands!…I have a sneaking suspicion Arvind is going to procure some rum for everyone tomorrow….