Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Visit to the Hindu Temple

Recently, I had the opportunity to tag along with a group of the Bible Institute students on another field trip they took; this time to the local Hindu temple. Once again, it was an eye-opening experience.

We went on a Monday evening to their weekly "prayer service." The first impression I received upon pulling into the parking lot was that the Hindu temple was outwardly very beautiful. The architecture was pleasing to the eye and everything looked to be made of marble. We removed our shoes and padded sock-footed up the marble steps and into the building.

We couldn't take pictures inside, so I will do my best to describe it in words. The room inside was brightly lit and brightly decorated. Once again, as at the mosque, I was immediately aware of the smell of incense, only this particular kind was much stronger and made me feel queasy in my stomach. White sheets covered the floor with a red carpet stretching down the middle. On all sides were carved-out "nooks" in the wall and in each nook was a statue representing one of the many Hindu gods. The idols were designed to look like animals or humans or a combination thereof with a distinctive "Hindu" design. Each statue was adorned with flowers. Candles burned in front of each one and their were also offerings of fruit set before some of the gods. At the front of the room were three large alcoves each containing a separate idol of great proportion. One was an ebony elephant sitting on a throne of sorts; one was a human looking statute, kingly in appearance. I don't remember the third.

The Hindu priest was clothed with a wrap-around tunic that covered his body from the neck to the ankles. His face was painted with a design that reminded me of an African tribal look. The priest positioned himself near a small fountain in the center of the floor from which he conducted the service.

Chairs were set up for us at the back of the room to observe, but only a few of the worshippers used chairs themselves. The majority knelt on the floor around and behind the fountain. As each worshipper entered the building, they rang a loud bell overhead, walked up the red carpet, set an offering of fruit or flowers near the fountain, selected a prayer book from a basket, and found a place on the floor upon which to pray. When about 12 or so people were present, the priest commenced a long session of prayer chants in the Hindi language. Those who could followed along in their prayer books, chanting right along with him. As the prayers continued, more and more people arrived. After awhile, I counted more than 30. The majority of the worshippers were women, arrayed in native dress, but there were also a number of men and a few children, all appearing to be from India or some other nearby Asian country. Only one American was present for the service.

After the priest ended the time of chanted prayers, different people took turns going to the fountain and pouring milk on it. At one point, the priest took an offering of food up the steps to the statue that was in the middle alcove and pulled a curtain across the alcove while he did something behind it. I never did find out what he did, but it certainly piqued my curiosity!

It was at this point that our group had to leave. A gentleman followed us out and proceeded to give us a 10-minute speech about Hinduism and their various beliefs. I had a hard time following all that he had to say, as it seemed to be a combination of mysticism, meta-physics, legends, and morality all wrapped into one package.

Throughout the whole prayer service my heart was so saddened to see these precious people so deceived, so blind to the truth about the one true God. I was reminded of the verse in Scripture which says, "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." (Psalm 115:4-8)

After we returned to the school, Satsuki, Nathaly, and I sat outside on the swing talking about the experience and praying for our Hindu neighbors. Oh that God would give them a hunger and thirst for the truth, that they might seek the Lord and find Him!

1 comment:

Christine said...

Hey Katrina, it's Christine from Tara's wedding and the conferences!
I just wanted to let you know that I keep up with your blog from time to time, I just have never commented. However, I am SO blessed by the fact that y'all went to visit the mosque and this temple. At my (public) high school, I have a lot of friends with these faiths, and some with no belief in God at all. Anyways, thank you for praying for them. And for not being afraid to visit their places of worship. Our God is bigger, so there's never need to worry about seeing the belief's of others-it truly helps to strengthen our own faith in our real God, and Savior Jesus Christ, doesn't it? It does for me. It looks like this has been a blessing for you. I need to pray more too, for them. It looks like you are doing well!
Love, Christine