Our big task today was to mail home backup CDs of our photos – 18 DVDs in fact. While that’s quite a lot, it’s only a fraction of the pictures we have taken, and only folders that have been edited. In our search for the DHL office (which we couldn’t find, but we did find a post office instead), we came across an Hindu temple. I noticed the “no photo” sign, and decided not to go in. What’s the point, right?
Well, after mailing our parcel, and after passing many strangers with red dots on their foreheads, my curiosity got the better of me. We went into the temple to check it out. It was certainly not the prettiest, nor the most exciting, and pretty soon I felt that I wanted to go. As I was about to check with Travis if we should leave when I noticed more people with fresh red smudges. I stood around for a minute and realized that to get one, you had to buy an offering. I also saw people getting charms wrapped around their wrists, and decided that I wanted one. I grabbed Travis and headed straight to the offering counter and forked over B60.
Our tray contained: 5 green bananas, a marigold garland, an apple, a box of soy milk, a candle and sticks of incense. It also had a weird plastified card with Ganesh and Lakshmi on it – not sure what we were supposed to do with that.
First, we lit the candle and the incense. We prayed to God (in Hinduism, that’s pretty much whoever you want it to be) and then offered the incense. We then made our way inside. I was unsure how to proceed, but a lady pointed me in the direction of a priest. He asked our names, grabbed our offering tray and went inside the chamber containing the holier images and said a prayer for us. Then, he dipped his thumb in red powder (similar looking to ground up spices) and marked our foreheads.
He returned our tray with the apple and soya drink. Not sure what to do with that, we returned it to the donation counter. I realize now that a smarter idea would have been to offer it to any of the other gods around. I also remembered later that in India, food offerings get consumed as for the giver to “intake” God’s greatness. Well, which ever way we were supposed to go about that, we failed.
I waited in line for my charm, but apparently this was not included in the purchase of an offering. I forked an extra B100 and the priest tied a red bracelet on my wrist, with a Ganesh head on it. I also got another plastified card, this time with an extra goddess (unsure which one) and a bronze amulet (unsure what it is). I realized later that while the bracelet is nice, the thread used is super slippery and it hardly stays on.
While that ended up costing way more than expected, it was still a cool experience. It made me realize though that it might be helpful to get a “guide” while in a temple India, just to get to know the ropes and the meanings behind everything. It would have been a lot more enjoyable I think had I know what was going on!