india is the most colorful place i’ve ever been.
the food, the fabric, the buildings, the cars and scooters, everything is full of color.
the people are so friendly, hospitable, excited to talk to us, helpful. family life feels much more welcome, special, sacred here. part of my soul feels at home in india — i’m comfortable in the chaos of the streets. this location on the globe feels…right. i feel like i should be here.
to get to our hotel in chennai, india, it took:
- one hour car ride
- one 12 hour flight (boston – dubai)
- 2 hour layover in dubai
- one 4 hour flight (dubai – chennai)
- one 30 minute car ride
we arrived in our room around 4 AM local time, but we were able to fall asleep and work against the jetlag!
my favorite thing i did during my time in india was was easily kapaleeshwarar temple, in the heart of the city. when we got there, we walked to the shoe storage hut. we left our shoes, then walked a few yards in the (dirty) street, and entered the temple.
immediately, it feels sacred.
people are praying, walking, humming, singing. our tour guide told us that no one is allowed to take pictures inside the temple, especially of the deities. i felt so lucky for them to let us in to their sacred space. we were even allowed to see the deities — just not the sacred sanctum area in the middle of the temple. when worshippers enter the temple, they all walk around the circular temple in a clockwise circle. lesser gods are at the front, and the most important are in the back. everything is very methodical and ritualistic.
our tour guide told us about how hinduism is more of a lifestyle than religion. it’s a way of life — diet, culture, physical activity. every day, you’re supposed to do a certain yoga pose (which is kind of like a burpee), and if a day comes when you can’t properly do it, you know to go to the doctor. same with a meditative pose where you squat and grab your ear lobes. i think it’s beautiful that hinduism encourages physical wellbeing, because it really does have such an impact on every aspect of your life.
another pose we learned about is the laying down prayer pose, which reinforces to everyone that we are all equal as humans: no one is superior. i love that this idea is preached as a part of hinduism.
then, we came to a sacred tree with lots of ribbons and offerings for good marriages and noble children. then…we saw the sacred cows! they had a whole stable of them in the middle of the temple. we then came to the planetary place where everyone walks around the monument 9 times, one for each planet. astrology is very important in marriages and births and hinduism.
if you ever have the opportunity to visit an actively in-use hindu temple, i highly recommend it — it is a privilege to be allowed inside.
the whole thing was an unforgettable, out-of-body experience. i can’t believe i actually got to go there. it reminded me that despite vast cultural differences, we are all just humans on this planet trying to live a happy, fulfilled life.
‘time spent in india has an extraordinary effect on one. it acts as a barrier that makes the rest of the world seem unreal.’ – tahir shah