India’s Golden Temple
Glistening like fire in the mid-day sun sits a precious jewel of India. This is no jewel to be worn but a sacred temple to be inspired by and partake in worship at. This stunning precious piece of architectural wonder is India’s Golden Temple, also known as Darbar Sahib meaning ‘abode of God’.
The temple sits in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, and is visited by over 50,000 people every day for worship of the Sikh Faith. People travel from all over the world to join together in worship within this very special holy space. The immense holiness and peace this sacred temple exudes means people from all faiths and backgrounds come to worship and the temple is designed to welcome you no matter what your faith, religion or background. Simple design details such as entrances all around the temple were included to enhance the openness and acceptance of all.
When you arrive the sheer beauty and grace of the temple is the first aspect you will observe. The breathtaking golden hue of the architecture reflected into the waters that surround enhance the essence of reflecting the beauty for all to share. The water around the temple is known as ‘Amit Sarovar’ and translates to ‘Pool of Holy Nectar’. To access the temple you will cross the water almost as if walking on water.
From the outside, the temple is a spectacular feat of Indian design and features stunning details such as the rooftop of pure gold, elaborate domes to the exterior shapes and ornate patterns and handmade mosaics that adorn the exterior walls. Around the grounds of the temple sit further examples of architectural wonder such as the clock tower, museum, langer and religious offices and authorities.
The temple is known as a Gurdwara and means ‘door to the Guru’. Although a place of worship for Sikhs, Gurdwara’s are welcoming to all no matter what faith you follow. Once inside you will enter the Darbar Sahib, the main hall inside a Sikh Gurdwara, within this holy space the Guru Sahib (the holy text) is placed upon a takhat or throne for all to see. This forms the focal point in the Darbar Sahib and provides a very special place for worship, inspiration and reflection.
Another very special part of India’s Golden Temple is the langer hall where over 40,000 meals are served every day, this is increased to over 100,000 meals at religious holidays and weekends. The langer (kitchen) is serviced by volunteers who are visiting and prepares wholesome vegetarian food that is nutritious and filling, a typical meal consists of lentils, vegetables, roti and rice.
What is so unique and inspiring is the sheer volume of meals that are prepared and consumed in the langer, two dining rooms serving 5,000 people each mean this is dining on an epic scale, and most amazingly all of the food preparation is completed by hand and by volunteers. From pealing garlic to cutting vegetables, washing rice and preparing roti all the techniques used are traditional and completed with devotion and care. Volunteering forms a very important part of the Sikh religion and when visiting people are willing to help out, whether it be in the kitchen, cleaning or serving the food.
What is evident about India’s Golden Temple is that this is a place of worship that is both dramatic in its ornate, decorative and opulent details of architectural splendour but at the same time it is a place of simplicity, reflection, unity, peace and, most importantly, togetherness.