Thursday, April 30, 2009

We have failed to write about a lot of our experiences, but we must tell you about one in particular. Our time in Haridwar was unique. We gained answers to many questions we had from the previous 5 weeks about the culture and Hindu religion. It was difficult for us to even formulate questions or know how to respond to what we saw and experienced. Even after knowing a little about Hinduism and previously spending five weeks in India, the time was far from what we could have previously imagined or prepared for.
Haridwar was probably the most spiritually dark place we have ever been. It seemed you could sense it in every way. Millions of people annually come to this city. We are told that thousands of seekers gather around to attend a nightly ritual to worship the Ganga River along its shores. Every twelve years a particular ritual occurs at the Ganga River that hosts about 20 million Hindus attempting to entering the water at a particular time to wash away there sins. We attended the nightly ritual, called Arti, to observe thousands of lost souls earnestly seeking and participating in the worship.
The following morning, we went around town and saw the many rituals that people perform. Particularly, we witnessed many who have traveled for the purpose of performing rituals for their deceased family members. The rituals range from shaving of their body hair, to rolling dough into balls, wrapping string around their wrists, repeating words and more. The importance isn’t in how or why you do something, but simply about doing the ritual.
One neat thing we saw was Historical documents that are updated each time family members come to Haridwar. The documents contain thousands of years of a family’s significant events.
In Haridwar, there are two major employment opportunities: a factory and spiritual tourism. Whether it’s selling rupees to throw into the Ganga River, to gathering up the rupees from the Ganga River that were just thrown in or selling flowers to offer to the idols, people seek to extract every last rupee out of the Hindu pilgrims and others that may be blindly searching. We saw so much idolatry, worshiping the creation rather than creator. The women will poor out the last of their food or milk into the Ganga river leaving there child hungry because of there belief that they will receive more in return. If only they would drink of the living water.
The weekend was such a blessing and eye opening to the needs of this people group.


Tami said...

staci...i would completely agree with you, it's the darkest place spiritually, that i've ever been to. I remember telling kendra that I felt like I could hardly stand up straight physically because of the weight your feel from the darkness of it all. It was an unbelievable experience. It was really interesting to hear you recount your experience...thanks for the post, Staci! I can't wait to see you and talk face to face about your trip!!!