Visit to the Baha'i Temple
Trip Start Oct 14, 2005
21Trip End Oct 31, 2005
The absolute highlight of my trip so far (and this is only the beginning) was my trip today out to the Baha'i House of Worship in the outskirts of Delhi. It took about 45 minutes drive, and we were slowed somewhat by traffic caused by the Delhi half marathon. We saw lots of the runners going past. My tour organizer here, Jay, accompanied me in the car, and admitted that although he has handled Baha'i groups in the past from Canada, he has never actually been inside the Temple.
It is a massive lotus flower design, and there is a long walkway approaching it. The walkway was absolutely packed with hundreds and hundreds of people going inside. To enter, unlike our House of Worship in the United States, everyone is required to remove their shoes, so that slows the line quite a bit
I was explaining the main tenets of the religion to Jay, and one of the security guards said "I couldn't have explained it better myself." I introduced myself as a Baha'i from Chicago, and he immediately took us out of the line and directly into the security office, where we left our shoes and proceed directly upstairs. It dwarfs the US Temple in size and seating capacity. We entered toward the end of the prayers that were being said at the 11am hour, and were told that more would be said at noon. We went back out to the audio visual center, and they gave me a compact disk of the making of the temple, which jay borrowed to watch himself. He was very impressed with the gorgeous informational displays in the AV Center, and promised to bring his wife back one day soon. He said they are Hindu, but not really practicing strictly.
After seeing the displays we re-entered the Temple shortly before noon. I sat and said prayers quietly, with Jay next to me, but it was a little difficult to concentrate with the thousands of people streaming past. At noon four young men approached the podium, and each one individually said or sang a prayer. The acoustics were difficult where I was sitting (right in the middle, under the Greatest Name), so it was too echoey to make out the words (I think they were in Hindi anyway), but the last man did one of the most exquisite Persian chants I have ever heard
The weather has been perfectly gorgeous -- not too hot nor too smoggy. They have passed a law that all city vehicles and busses must run on natural gas, so the polution is much less than it was when I was here in 1998 before my Nepal trek, and got an instant sore throat. Now I am not bothered at all by the air, and they had people breaking all sorts of speed records today running the half marathon, so the air can't be all that toxic!
Two clients arrived while I was at the Temple, so I went out to lunch with them, then crashed in my room for three and a half hours. Just can't seem to get my body adjusted this trip -- not yet anyway. After absolutely FORCING myself out of bed at 7pm, I met with the clients and my friend Martin from GTA and Jay to go check out the pub which is gay on Tuesday nights, and where we are taking the clients after our welcome dinner. It was delightful, but more of my clients were arriving, so I bowed out and returned to the hotel to greet them.
My time card is running out, so this epistle will end here. More adventures from India to be coming in future installments.