Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture
A pretty easy challenge having recently returned from India and Nepal. I’ll focus on the Indian Hindu culture this week and their relationship with their temples. As you may or may not know the Hindu religion has millions of gods – each signifying some aspect of life. This can be mystifying to a Westerner but we were lucky enough to have a wonderful guide (and friend) to help us understand this rich, complex religion. There are millions of temples throughout the country. While some are very large and ornate, the vast majority of them are small, private shrines which can be found anywhere. They can be as simple as a small altar or even a rock with a place for a candle and other small offerings. Our guide visited numerous altars in the course of his daily activities. He would stop our car at a roadside temple, leave money or other offerings at small temples in the backstreets, or just bow to show his reverence anytime he saw an altar we were passing by in our travels. We were also impressed when, to honor his wife’s birthday, our guide went to the market and bought numerous small packages of food which he then distributed to some of the poorest of the poor in the city. It was obvious that his faith was very important to him and that he “lived it” everyday. In Varanasi, the local guide told us that there were over 70,000 temples in that town alone – having walked the back streets and alleys of that town, we certainly believe it – you basically couldn’t round a corner without seeing another altar. My photo for today is one of the small temples we saw in Varanasi – just big enough for a single person at a time – I was lucky enough to capture a smiling holy man peering out from the shrine.