At first I was not very excited about going to see a Hindu temple because I felt a little bit out of place because I am not very religious. As well, the religion that I do practice is Judaism. I also did not feel like I had that great of a grasp on the aspects of Hinduism because there are a lot of different parts that make up the religion: caste system, vedas, samsara, moksha, dharma, and more. Not only are there so many different parts to Hinduism, but there are also two types: Philosophical Hinduism and Devotional Hinduism. I came into the temple thinking Hinduism is very complex, but after I left I was very surprised and satisfied with my experience and now am able to understand more of its beliefs.
At first, I listened to a man give our class some background on Hinduism and he explained things in a way that was very easy to understand and he kept my attention. One thing that stuck out to me is that Hindus worship the cow and view the cow as their mother. This is drawn from the fact that a mother provides milk for her children and because cows provide milk as well, Hindus honor the cow as one would respect a mother. The cow is also the reason that Hindus do not wear shoes inside of their temples because if shoes are made from leather, one would be disrespecting the cow. As well the cow explains why Hindus follow a vegetarian diet.
Another thing that I really noticed throughout the whole temple was a feeling of respect. Everyone inside of the temple practiced silence, showing respect for their religion and for others who were there practicing their religion. Because everyone was silent, I felt like it was a sign that we all had an understanding of each other and were respecting whatever everyone was there doing. As well, I felt welcomed and I did not feel out of place at all because those who saw our class there knew we were there for learning purposes.
There was one room we went into that had some of the deities in small set back rooms that we could view from the center of the room. This was interesting because we discussed some of the deities in class such as Shiva, Krishna, Kali, and Durga. I liked the fact that I was able to visually see topics we discussed in class in actual practice inside of the temple. Another symbol that was in that same room was a swing that a lot of people congregated around and performed some sort of moment of silence or prayer. The sign explaining what this swing was said that the swing was a way to pull oneself closer to God. One of the problems in Hinduism is samsara which means wandering or distance from God and the solution to this is moksha which is devotion to God. Therefore, this swing has a lot of meaning and helps to draw Hindus closer to their religion and center themselves with God.
As well, the architecture of the building also drew my attention. The temple was beautiful and from the street was huge and looked intimidating. Both the outside as well as the inside was filled with extremely intricate designs and symbols of Hinduism. The ceiling was the most beautiful to me. I think that out of all the religious places of worship I have visited in the last six weeks in London, this Hindu temple is where I got the most information from.