Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Holton in India '13 Group 1

Even before I got on the bus to Dulles on July 30th, I knew that my journey to India this summer would be different from any experience I'd ever had and maybe ever would have. Although this entire trip will remain in my memories forever, there were a few particular moments that truly made this opportunity one to remember. One moment that sticks out in my mind was when we visited CORD (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development). One person who spoke to us, Dr. Didi, really made me think because of two questions she had for us. She asked "who are you?" and "what is love?" It got me thinking about what truly defines me. Love doesn't only mean two people loving each other, it also includes love for the community. Another moment that particularly stood out for me was when we worked with the young children at Molar Bund. Teaching children is one of my passions, and just knowing that I made a difference in their lives (even the smallest bit) pleases me. After I asked them a few questions about themselves, they bombarded me with questions just so they could practice their English. The children I worked with read me a book, almost entirely themselves, and I was thoroughly impressed. Keep in mind these were 7 year old Indian children, and it was not an easy book. It's hard for me to think this trip is almost over, but I cannot wait to see the way these experiences in India affect my life in America. I've loved bonding with my family Shree and I'll miss this trip so much. 


I have always loved traveling, and that was one of the many reasons I chose to come to India. However this trip is so much more than the stamp in my passport can indicate. I have had an incredible experience, and I am going back an updated version of myself as the Buddhist monk would say. We have heard from some amazing, inspiring, thought-provoking speakers, from the monk to Dr. Didi to Tenzin. We have seen some astoundingly beautiful sights, from the Golden Temple to the Taj Mahal. We have even had the opportunity to participate in and enjoy some exciting cultural experiences, from running the flags at the Wagah Border to wood painting to Bollywood dancing. I will take away a lot of lessons and memories from this trip. I have learned so much about myself, India, and the world we live in. I have absorbed messages of hope and strength in the face of adversity. I have also had a ton of fun bonding with the other members of the Family Shree. From watching English Vinglish to singing loudly and enthusiastically in Pizza Hut, I have made many unforgettable memories on the trip. I can't wait to share my experience with my family and friends back home. I had an unforgettable, amazing time in India and I am so thankful to everyone who made this possible. 

- Sammi

Last summer, I never imagined I'd travel to India on Global Ed. Now, I can't imagine not having gone on the trip. It opened my eyes to a different lifestyle and taught me lessons that I'll apply to my life back home. The Buddhist monk and NGO speakers inspired me to appreciate happiness and make a difference in my community. I will always remember the feeling of walking into the Wagah Border stadium. The nationalism and excitement I felt from everyone was truly invigorating. I wanted to stay there all day listening to the music and cheers! All of the experiences I had in India made for a great way to spend my summer.  


The trip has been life changing. From hearing all of the inspiring stories and great advice from the people working at the NGOs to working with the children at the Arpana school in Molar Bund, I have enjoyed every experience. One of the experiences that I loved was the Bollywood dancing sessions. Although I didn't participate in the first one because I wasn't feeling well I still had fun watching everyone. But the real fun came in the second and third lesson when I got to dance. Usually I don't dance and don't want to try something where I may look foolish or embarrass myself, but during the dancing I forgot about all of that and just had fun. I loved how good the dancing made me feel and how much fun it was just to dance with my friends. Overall the trip has really helped push my boundaries and has helped me become more confident in myself.  

- Elise

First and foremost, India has been an incredible experience.  I was initially tentative about traveling to a new country with a culture completely different from my own. However, I knew that I was in safe hands and no harm would come my way. Although, in some ways, the universe betrayed me. Getting sick is never an enjoyable experience but getting sicker than I have been in years in a foreign country away from my parents was a different sort of experience. While I was sick I could only think of my house and my bed and how much I would love to be there at that moment. At that point, I was completely done with India. However, when my fever settled I felt like I gained a new perspective. I found a new appreciation for the beautiful country I got to see and enjoy. For the remainder of our trip I kept my eyes open for new challenges and fun and I feel like I had a different trip in the last week. I was more aware of the limited time we had here in this amazing country and that helped me make more of the experience that I hope to bring back to my family and Holton community alike.  


India has been such a great experience for me. I have never been to a place so different from the US and it opened up my eyes to how different the world could be. I will always remember all the beautiful temples and religions I didn't know too much about. This trip will stay with me because of how different this has been from anything I have ever done. I loved being in India and I hope I get to come back here. I feel like everyone loved the Taj Mahal because it is one of those places you hear about in tales and myths but being there is indescribable. A picture can't capture the beauty and detail of the architecture. Mom, I know you wanted to know when I was at the Taj Mahal because you knew I would love it. Your daughter is a global citizen now and I want to travel more now that I had this experience. 

- Alexa

I can't believe it's time to come home! The past two weeks I have spent in India have been incredible.  I am truly thankful for all the people I have met, the places I have seen, and the lessons I have learned.  Some highlights of my trip include our visit to the Taj Mahal, our Bollywood dance classes, and our visit to the designer.  My experiences and adventures in India are some that I will never forget and thank you to all who made this amazing trip possible!  

- Claire

I really enjoyed the influential people we met during our time at Dharamsala. Dr. Didi, Tenzin Tsundue, and the monk inspired me to reflect on my life and to update myself. My favorite attractions were the Golden Temple and the Taj  Mahal. Both of these attractions were breathtaking. My favorite activity throughout the trip was interacting with different people. The preschoolers at Norbulinka impressed us all with their knowledge from such a young age. The Sikh boys at the orphanage were incredibly talented. Talking to the students at Molar bund was definitely a highlight of our trip. It was interesting to compare and contrast American culture and Indian culture. I want to spend more time at Molar Bund because the students are so willing to learn and are driven to work hard and be successful. Our Bollywood dancing was the most entertaining activity. We had so much fun learning the dance moves and spending time with our dance instructors. The Shree group bonded so well and I will never forget our parties, bus rides, ANCHOR's and dinners. Thank you for such a wonderful trip. 

- Anya

Even though we've stayed for 2 weeks, it feels like we've been here for less! The Indian culture and surroundings are so vibrant and different to anything I've seen in the States that it takes time to take it all in.  I enjoyed learning and visiting many different states in India, not just one. The history and traditions vary from place to place. For example, in Dharamsala there were two different cultures in one city. The Tibetan movement vs. the small villages. The Tibetans in Dharamsala kept their country alive through maintaining their religions and their fight for a free Tibet meanwhile the people in the village maintained more traditional aspects and formed a larger sense of community by farming together and keeping the family close together. The theme of our trip: tradition vs modernity was everywhere; even in the streets while we went to our next stops. My favorite tidbit was seeing the women in their beautiful saris on the back of a black motorcycle because the contrasts of tradition and modernity as shown by the traditional wear of the sari and the motorcycle, an efficient mode of transportation made a big while small appearance. Another city that combines both tradition and modernity is Dehli. Old Dehli maintains more traditional aspects while New Dehli combines the both. Anyways, in general,the trip was momentous and know I will forever cherish these fun memories!  See you in the US !  

- Vania 

A soon as I walked out of the airport in New Delhi, I was completely overwhelmed. The various people, aroma of foods and India itself was so different. As we hopped on the bus, I couldn't help but feel nervous about living in a new country for two weeks. Day by day, I had more and more fun on the trip. All the landmarks we visited, such as the Wagah border, the Norbulinka Institute, the various villages and temples, and the Taj Mahal were extremely captivating, and in each of those places I have created memories I will never forget. There was never a dull moment on this trip, even the bus rides were full of laughter and singing. I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls and chaperones to spend my first trip to India with! It was like having sisters and moms away from home. One of the most memorable aspects of the trip was the Bollywood dance classes we took. Our dance teachers Sahaj and Shreoshi choreographed two amazing routines for us which we performed along with two routines choreographed for the other group in a dance battle. Each class was so much fun and we felt really proud to have learned such difficult routines. Our entire group practiced our routines together outside of class time and couldn't have been happier with our final performance. It showed us that hard work really does pay off. I also really loved talking to the monk who translates for the Dalai Lama and also Tenzin, a Tibetan activist. Both individuals gave such influential and eye opening speeches. Our discussions made me think about my life in a different way. Before talking to the monk, I never thought of a concept such as "wisely selfish" vs. "stupidly selfish". Similarly enough, before talking to Tenzin, I never truly understood the extremes an activist must go to to make his point prominent. This trip is honestly one of the best trips I have ever been on, and I am so grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity. 

- Tatyana

The long bus rides have given me time to finally breathe. The DC life is so hectic sometimes; even now that school is out I have had my schedule packed. Between volunteer work, traveling, summer college programs, school work, college apps, and trying to not completely ignore friends and family, I've had almost no time to think. My thought process has become so robotic: wake up, brush teeth, wash face, eat, do this, do that, on to the next thing before I can actually take it all in.  This trip has given me time to think...and to think deeply. Rich thoughts filled my mind as I asked myself questions I would have never asked myself otherwise. The constant moving backdrop of India outside of my bus window served as fuel for my mind. As I sat quietly in my seat, seemingly brain dead, I was actually being consumed by the knowledge I was gaining through only looking out my wide window and allowing my thoughts to rocket high into unknown depths of understanding. I piece together what I know of myself, India, and the world. I see how these people live and how I live and how and why we are so different but the same. I create systems and create patterns to explain the answers to my questions. Looking out my window brings me back to those days I spent as a child looking out of the back seat car window, watching the world pass by, quietly learning about my world- completely uninterrupted by any text messages or homework, simply soaking in the beauty. 


This trip has been an amazing and educational experience. I appreciate all the people we've met for being so open with us, especially Penny, CORD, and Nirantar. A lot of the time people can be blinded to the major issues of their country by patirotism but India's strong patriotism has not stopped the people we have met from aknowleging social, political, and economic issues in their country. I appreciated Tenzin and the Lama's confidence and honesty. Their ability to speak their minds without fear that we might disagree with them was commendable. Tenzin spoke about how he disagreed with much of the United States' foreign policy. The Lama spoke about materialism, a lifestyle prevalent in own area at home. Although I agreed with their ideas, I know that some people in the room and/or people in America would have disagreed but neither of the two held back. Tenzin also talked honestly about how he kept up his motivation to keep fighting for a free Tibet. He talked about the importance of proving that non-violence is realistic way to solve issues and how he motivates himself by working for solely the free Tibet issue. I think a lesson for us all came out of that. Sometimes in school and at home we cant help but think about our futures and we usually think about a high paying, office job. But Tenzin showed us that pursuing what you believe in and are passionate about is one way to ensure your future happiness. The Lama's most striking words were '"No one is going to grab your hand and throw you to heaven. No one is going to grab your leg and drag you to hell." Similar to Tenzin's words, the Lama convinced me of the importance of taking my own path in life and not just living by social rules or norms. Throughout the trip we have been welcomed in to homes and organizations warmly. I appreciate all the hospitality and general positive vibes (for lack of a better word) that I have received whilst in India. I appreciate all the "updating myself" I've been able to do. Seeing my values and actions as well as major world issues in a different light has been a valuable part of this trip. Finally, I appreciate all the girls on this trip who worked through sickness, stuck together, discussed, sang along, danced all out, and generally enjoyed themselves. I hope that I can continue to update myself and sustain bonds with the girls on this trip. Thank you to the trip leaders and all of the organizers of this trip. 
It will be sad to leave India but I can't wait to see my family and friends back in the U.S. and maybe have a big ol' steak when I get home. 

- Becca

India welcomed us all with open arms. From the very moment we landed in Delhi, I felt a warm acceptance that lasted throughout the whole trip. Even in areas that I would have not expected to feel comfortable in, such as the temples or rural villages, people responded to our presence with welcoming smiles. I think what had always been so appealing to me about India was its colourful, vivacious, restless nature. Everywhere we traveled as a large, conspicuous group, I saw genuine living, not people concealed within their technology or ignoring all things surrounding them. In India, people actively appreciate their surroundings and each other, and that has opened my eyes on how to better live my own life back in my own environment. 


Holton in India '13 Group 2

HWhat struck me most about our integration into the Indian culture was their sense of space. I immediately noticed how people were on top of each other. In the slums, houses are so close they often share the same wall; on the streets, drivers and bikers don't use the lane lines at all it seems, and even in the classrooms, desks/tables are squeezed into the room. When we took the rick-shaw ride through Old Delhi, we bumped into other

people, animals, trash...etc. essentially whatever was in our way. The bike driver guided us through the tiny streets, nearly giving me a heart attack. This was probably the most culture-shocking activity for me because I am used to having my own personal space. It was such an eye-opening experience to physically be a part of such a different way of life.



Coming to India has been an experience unlike anything else I have done. The clashes between tradition and modernity as well as between rich and poor are astonishing. There are so many women dressed in traditional Indian attire, such as a sari, not just in villages but in cities as well. The people here try to hold onto their customs while living this in modernized and technological world. It's also startling to see the contrast between rich and poor. In India there will be such great poverty: people with nothing, begging on the streets, right outside the doorsteps of the very rich. For me it was especially hard to see the children begging for money or persistently following you and trying to sell you something. It's really difficult to see a child probably no older than eight or ten and sometimes younger all alone on the streets with no parents asking you for water or food by either gesturing or using what little English they know to ask for it. However, as hard as it is, you have to say no for many complicated reasons. The one thing that really struck me was the girls at the school in the Molar Bund slum. They live in horrendous conditions that are hard to look a, let alone think about living in. Yet despite all of this, they seem so happy and have such great attitudes about learning in school and about life. This makes me feel grateful for everything that I have, and I hope to remember that it is the simple things in life that make you happy and not material wealth.


It's hard to express how grateful I am to have had this incredible opportunity to travel to India. My experience has taught me not to take the luxuries I have in America for granted. The visits to Molar Bund helped me appreciate simplicity and find joy in intangible things. I was often pushed out of my comfort zone; I believe this trip has been an integral part in my growth as a student and a more responsible and culturally sensitive person.


This trip to India was very unique, and I think it brought us girls much closer together. Seeing the different extremes of social classes and various types or architecture exemplified the diversity within India. As Americans, people think diversity is always related to race, but we have to keep in mind that different cultures have different types of diversity. I really learned to appreciate what I have, and the trip has made me want to truly help and make a difference for those who are less fortunate.


Summing up my final thoughts in a few sentences proves a difficult task because we did and learned so much in these two weeks. have not only gained so much appreciation for every little thing I have and am able to do, but also I learned so many things about myself. Our amazing group, trip leaders, and guide made the already special experience even more extraordinary. Before this trip, I had no idea of the extent to which our culture differs from every other culture out there; it was truly shocking. People had told me this would be a once in a lifetime experience, but I never truly understood. I will never forget this trip, and I'm unbelievably thankful to have gotten the opportunity to go.


The two weeks I've spent in India have really changed my perspective and made me appreciate everything we have in the US. The opportunity to emerge into and participate in Indian culture was one that I may never get to have again, and it was shocking how easy it was to connect with the people we interacted with. Throughout the trip I had so many heartwarming moments, and overall it was a great experience for my first time out of the country.


For me, India has been an opportunity to experience, an opportunity to appreciate, and most importantly an opportunity to grow. Within the 15 days I've been here, I've seen some of the most beautiful and ugly sights which I will carry home with me. Overall, I cannot wait to take all that I've learned here and apply it to my life at home.


India has been amazing in every way possible. It has made me realize how fortunate we are in every way. It's very different to hear about the slums and poor people in India than it is to experience it for yourself. The streets of Molar Bund are covered in trash, with kids playing next to pigs in the garbage. All the kids are so happy with their simple lives, when we whine and complain about the most trivial things. It's really upsetting to me that these children are born into lives of poverty with few opportunities. This trip has made me very thankful that I have all the opportunities that I do. I'm proud that I pushed myself far out of my comfort zone and tried not to look back. I think it helped me experience India for what it is and take everything in. I'm going home having learned a lot of life lessons and information about other religions and parts of the world.


I never thought I'd have the chance to visit a place like India, but during my stay here I've realized it's just another thing I have to be thankful for. I'm grateful that we visited slums like Molar Bund because most of us haven't seen poverty like that before, and it pushed us outside of our comfort zones. In a place where wild animals are everywhere and children spend their days playing in piles of garbage, I never thought I'd see the smiles I did at the school there. The students are unbelievably smart considering their lives just outside the gates, and the eagerness they had to learn amazed me. Our time with the kids there reminded me to appreciate the things I so easily take for granted back home. I also saw education in a whole new light, not just as a privilege, but as an outlet. I have learned to take risks, and I understand now why our teachers encouraged us to throw ourselves fully into the experience. I've an had an awesome time with amazing people.


This being my first time out of the country, I knew things would be different and I thought I had properly prepared myself for the huge differences I would see between India and the US. I knew to expect horrible poverty and while this did shock me with every new thing I saw what I didn't expect were all the little culture differences between the two countries. For example the way that Indians gesture ok with a side nod or the way no one says excuse me after they burp, etc. While there were many other important things that I observed while on this trip, these little differences remind me that no culture is the same and for this reason it can be extremely hard to compare them. Throughout the trip we all kept asking "Would we do that in America?" But this question does not have an accurate answer because of the all the little ways we are different. We were all raised differently so it is hard to compare many of the things we saw and didn't understand. This trip has given me experiences which I will remember for the rest of my life and use throughout my future travels.


This trip was an amazing experience. When we first arrived in Delhi, I was immediately shocked to see the amount of people sleeping on the streets. It has made me realize how fortunate all of us really are and how much we take for granted. The kids that we got a chance to interact with at Molar Bund basically have nothing, yet they seem so happy. From now on when I complain about what I don't have and when I want something, I will just think about all the people here in India that have to beg for the money to make dinner that night and the children that sleep on the bare ground with a few pairs of pants and a few shirts, and everyone that works so hard to make every cent they have. It made my heart bleed to realize that so many people in the world live like this when we have air conditioning in our homes, have clean water, and have the ability to be properly nourished. These people are put into their lives without the opportunities that we have, but I know they want to learn so much. I learned that many people with less are more hungry for success.


India was a wonderful experience. It gave me the opportunity to bond with teachers and students in a different way than I would at Holton. I feel like we are all a family now. I loved visiting the beautiful temples and the Taj Mahal, of course. The slums and villages were great because I loved seeing smiles on everyone's faces when we would come and interact with them. I learned many life lessons from this trip just from visiting the slums/ villages and listening to the monks at Norbulingka. India has made me appreciate my life greatly. Also, India has made me realize that happiness comes from simplicity, and I plan to act on that.



Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Taj Mahal: The crown palace of the world.

Taj Mahal

"Should guilty seek asylum here
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sights;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the Creator's glory."

-Shah Jahan on Taj Mahal

A king's expression of sorrow at the death of his beloved wife, a tribute to exquisite beauty, a monument of love, the grandeur of the Mughal Empire, Islamic art and architecture at its finest: all these fall short in describing the Taj Mahal.

One of the wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site, the majestic Taj Mahal cannot be described in any way so as to do justice to it. It is an experience to be felt and a sight to marvel at.

In 1631, Shah Jahan the emperor during the Mughal's period of greatest prosperity was grief-stikren when his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal died during the birth of their 14th child. Before she passed away, Mumtaz Mahal had extracted  4 promises fron\m the king: he would build the taj, he would marry again, he would be kind to their children and that he would visit her tomb on her death anniversary.

However, due to ill health and being under house arrest by his son and successor to the throne Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan could not fulfill his last vow. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Agra Fort: Symbol of power

Agra Fort

The Agra Fort is located on the right bank of the banks of the Yamuna river in Agra. It is one of the most important and robustly built stronghold of the Mughals, embellished with a number of richly decorated buildings encompassing the imposing Mughal art style and architecture. It was constructed by the third Mughal Emperor, Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. 

Akbar who arrived in Agra in 1558 ordered to renovate the fort with red sandstone. Some 4000 builders daily worked on it and it was completed in 8 years. It was in a tower with a beautiful marble balcony in this fort  that Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan, where one of the best views of the Taj Mahal can be seen.

Agra: Glimpses of the Mughals splendour blended with modern North India.


Situated on the banks of the Yamuna river in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Agra is the former capital of India. One of the most populous cities of India, Agra has a rich history. Though the most ancient mention of Agra can be found in the legend Mahabharata, Agra's fame is mainly associated with the Mughal Empire. 

For over 100 years, Agra was the capital of the pompous Mughal Empire. it is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate founded the city of Agra. Agra had a succession or rulers and its golden period started under the reign of the Mughals. It was then known as Akbarabad and it remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the rule of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan who later shifted the capital to Delhi where he founded Shahjahanabad.

The legendary wealth and love for beauty for the three generations of Mughal rulers in Agra found expression in outstanding art and architecture. Apart from the exquisite Taj Mahal, the impressive Agra Fort and the nearby Fatehpur Sikri, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Agra city contains many other monuments which combine Persian, Hindu and Islamic influences.

Agra is more than beautiful buildings.It can rightly be said that it is a microcosm of north India where multiple religions and faiths co-exist. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Agra still follow the ancient ways of life, celebrating festivals and fairs as their forefathers did. Agra is surounded by villages and farmlands, from where people flock to the city for the daily needs. Agra's bazaars teem with spices, fruits, vegetables, colourful fabrics, jewelry and household wares, giving a picture of typical north India.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Jallianwala Bagh: Colonial scars and unhealed wounds.

Jallianwala Bagh Memorial

Years of colonial rule in India, especially the British Raj has left the country with wounds and scars so deep that even today, 65 years after India gained independence, the echoes of the cries of pain  are still resonant to the ears and throughout the country, images of martyrs, freedom fighters and thousands of innocents killed can become alive due to the countless memorials and monuments in different corners of the country.

During your visit to Amritsar, you will have the chance to visit the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, the name of which is sufficient to send shivers down one's spine. Indeed, the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial located only a few meters from the Golden Temple is symbolic of the cruelty that man has ever perpetuated on his fellow man.

The Jallianwala bagh Memorial
Since 1857 and continuing till the post first world war period, protest and mass gatherings were common in different places in India. With Bengal and Punjab remaining sources of anti-colonial activities, believed and prepared for the worst. 

On Sunday, April 13 1919, Baisakhi, which happens to be one of Punjab's greatest festivals, was being celebrated. Baisakhi is essentially a Sikh festival as it is not only the festival of the annual harvest but it is also the day commemorating the day when the Khalsa Panth (a kind of baptism for the Sikhs) was founded by the 10th Guru. On that day, thousands of not only Sikhs, but Hindus and Muslims as well had gathered in the Jallianwala Garden for the celebrations.

On that fateful day, comanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, fifty British Indian soldiers marched to a raised bank at the garden and began shooting at the unarmed gathering of men, women and children. Dyer had also brought two armoured cars, armed with machine guns. However, the cars were stationed outside the main gate as they were too big to enter the garden through the narrow entrances.

Reginald Dyer
The Jallianwala Bagh was bounded on all sides by houses and narrow entrances and the only wide entrance was guarded by the troops. The shooting continued until almost all ammunitions were exhausted. Apart from deaths from the direct shootings, many other lives were lost in stampedes at the narrow gates and people jumped into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shootings. 

Bullets marks on the walls in Jallianwala Bagh

The well in Jallianwala Bagh
The afternath

The number of deaths caused by the shooting is disputed. While British official figures amount to 379 persons and 1000 wounded, given the size of the crowd which had gathered on that day and based on eye-witnesses and an inquiry by the Indian National Congress, it is estimated that approximately 1000 persons were killed and 1500, wounded.

Following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore, one of India's prominent thinkers renounced his knighthood in protest of the massacre. Find, on the following link, his letter of renouncing the knighthood:

As for Reginald Dyer, appearing before the unter Comission, he said that he had gone to the garden with the deliberate intention of opening fire if he found a crowd gathered there. "I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what i consider, a fool of myself." Dyer said. He further said he did not stop shooting when the crowd began to disperse but he considered it his duty to keep on shooting till the crowd completely dispersed. 

Cameroon's visit to the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial

In what can be seen as a political tactic, British PM David Cameroon visited the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh in February 2013. The fact that no apology was issued has got mixed reactions from the people of Punjab.Cameroon is the first serving British Prime Minister to have visited the memorial and described the shootings as a "deeply shameful event."

Cameroon's entry in the visitor's book

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Golden Temple, a place of serenity and peace.

The Golden Temple

Located in Amritsar, the Sri Harimandir Sahib, most popularly known as the Golden Temple is not only the most sacred place of the followers of Sikhism but in the middle of the blue waters of the lake which is believed to have special healing powers, the Golden Temple stands majestically as a symbol of human brotherhood and equality.Regardless of cast, creed or race, everyone is welcomed in the Golden Temple to seek spiritual solace and religious fulfillment. Indeed, the four different entrances from the four directions of the temple symbolises that people from different walks of life are welcome to this holy shrine.

Ever since its completion in 1604 and having been subject to numerous attacks, the Golden temple is seen as one of the most, it not the most important temple of Sikhism. It has become a place of pilgrimage ans all Sikhs try to visit the place at least once in their life-time. One of the main reasons for this is that the holy script of the Sikhs, the Adi Sri Guru Grant Sahib is kept inside the Golden Temple.

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple at night
The Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy sripture of the Sikhs
Note that the etiquettes for the visitors are that the shoes should be removed and the feet and hands mush be washed. Also, the head should be covered.

The concept of seva

"Do seva , selfless service, for the Holy Saints and the noose of death shall be cut away."
-Guru Granth Sahib: Paanaa 214, line 7) 

Seva or voluntary service is a prominent component of the Sikh religion. According to Sikhism, God pervades His creation, among whom also comes humanity. Hence, service to humanity is a form of worship. In fact in Sikhism, no worship is conceivable without seva. The Sikh must serve none than God. "Serve you the Lord alone; none else must you serve." (Guru Granth Sahib, P.490).

Simple forms of seva can include sweeping the floor of the gurudwara, serving water or fanning the congregation, offering provisions to and rendering any kind of service in the kitchen-cum-eating house or safe-guarding the foot-wears of those who have gone to worship the gurudwara.

Acts of seva

Founded by Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism), the langar means a free kitchen and is one of the most important institutions of this religion. The philosophy which lied behind the idea of langar was a radical departure of the norms of the then India.Ridden by caste hierarchies and restrictive religiosity of the ruling class on that period of time, the  langar was a place, where every human being, peasant or king, man or woman saint or sinner could sit as equals and share a common meal and is a practical expression of equality among humans. The food is prepared by the community for the community. Each gurudwara, however modest or lavish has a free kitchen.This ethos remains to this day and is perhaps the most visible form of seva that can be encountered in the modern day.

Preparing food for langar

Food serving in langar