The past three days have been a whirlwind of sights, sounds, and smells. Walking tours, bus excursions and subway rides have taken me and the Global Exchange crew throughout Delhi and Jaipur. I have really enjoyed this time and have much to reflect on. But I can say without hesitation, the best part thus far is my experience at the Birla Temple on the spectacular holiday of Diwali.
We’d had a very full day and as evening approached, our tour guide offered to show us the Birla Temple. A place of worship dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. This was a special detour from the itinerary and one with great significance for this day. It was Diwali, or the Festival of Lights; the most celebrated holiday in India. In general, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness. Hindus celebrate this in many ways, including worshiping the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
In spite if our exhaustion, most of the group decided to go. The exterior alone was a great sight to see. Strings of white light draped from top to bottom illuminating the pure white marble temple. Ornamented with beautiful sculptures of great historical figures including Socrates, Zarathustra, Christ, Budhda, and Confucius.
As I walk towards the entrance, my bare feet hit the cold marble and I wander throughout the serene shrine. Delicate carvings of Hindu symbols, stained glass windows and deities catch my eye at every corner.
A red curtain was draped shut towards the front where several gathered. Soon, Hindi music began to play, bells began to ring and the curtains parted to reveal magnificent idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. An enormous Om symbol painted right behind them. The gods covered in rich red clothing, with marigolds draping their feet.
As I stood hearing the sounds of worship, seeing the love and devotion to this goddess, the vibrant beauty of it all made my eyes swell with tears. Such an honor to experience this with these people, to feel connected in this way on this special day in this special place.
What a wonderful first Diwali filled with Light, Love and Lakshmi.
After the devotion, our guide explained the symbolism of each element of the ceremony including a beautiful and very spiritual tale of life, death and the Hindu religion. But that’s another story for another day…
I would have shared some pictures but photography is not allowed inside the temple. You’ll just have to use your imagination…or Google it :)