I walked around the holy city of Varanasi, which is sacred to many Hindus.
The first day of my trip to sacred sites of religion, I visited Varanasi. Varanasi is one of the most famous sacred sites for Hinduism. It also is one of the oldest cities in the world. Varanasi is in the Ganges, which is south of Delhi, and is considered to be one of the "seven ancient cities" located in India. Many Hindu people believe that if they go to Varanasi, they will receive liberation and freedom. Also, they believe that if they bring the ashes of their loved ones and scatter it around the city, it is a proper departure of their soul. Varanasi is a beautiful city, with great architecture and colors. I enjoyed being able to see the difference in culture and religious practices.
I visited the Kesava Deo Mandir, which is a holy temple for Hindus in the city of Mathura, India.
In the same day I visited Varanasi, I drove a couple miles north to the city of Mathura. Along with Varanasi, Mathura is a beautiful and ancient city in India. When I arrived, I located the main holy temple in Mathura, which is the Kesava Deo Mandir. The Kesava Deo Mandir is most famous for being a place of Krishna's birth, almost 5 thousand years ago. Krishna is a Hindu god that many people worship. Hindus go to this temple to worship both the god Krishna and Radha. There are many other temples like the Kesava Deo Mandir who are dedicated to Krishna. It is believed that the elderly should retire to the city of Mathura, because they will then die a spiritual death, and end up living in another life with their gods.
I traveled to The Mahabodhi Temple located in Bodh Gaya, India. I got to go inside and see the famous 1700 year-old picture of Buddha "touching the ground pose".
The second day of my trip, I went to Bodh Gaya, India. I asked around, and one of the most sacred sites to Buddhists is located in this city. The Mahabodhi Temple is a very historical location to the Buddhism religion. It is said that during Buddha's teaching career, he stopped at this temple and it was a place for his meditation. Following in his footsteps, many Buddhists came to this temple for both meditation and worship. A Buddhist emperor named Ashoka visited this temple and became the designated founder of The Mahabodhi. The interesting thing about this holy site is that The Mahabodhi was not intentionally built for a place of worship for Buddhists. It was originally built as a monument, however it became a holy temple after Buddha worshipped there. I was very intrigued by the architecture of this building- it is so old and very well thought out.
The Lumbini is probably the most well-known and famous holy sites for Buddhists, and I got to go inside and learn a lot about its significance.
Still on the second day of my trip, I drove from India over to Nepal in order to visit this next sacred site to Buddhists. I went to see the Lumbini, which is significant because it is the location of Buddha's birth. To Buddhists, Gautama Buddha was the Tathagata, which is the One who has found the Truth. With that being said, many Buddhists believe the Lumbini is a place where a person of devotion should visit very often. The Lumbini is one of the 4 most sacred sites for this religion, and became a place of pilgrimage. After Buddha's birth, the emperor Ashoka developed a stone pillar with a horse on top to honor his birth. I really enjoyed seeing the pillar and architecture of the Lumbini. It contains very scared and holy ground which is respected by all Buddhists.
During my trip to Israel, I visited one of the most sacred sites to Jews, The Western Wall. I took lots of pictures, because it is very beautiful and historical.
The third day of my trip, I traveled to Jerusalem, Israel. Once I arrived, I didn't have to ask anyone about a sacred site, because I knew right away that The Western Wall is one. During my stay in Israel, there was constantly so many people at the wall. People go there for weddings, to say a prayer, to celebrate Bar Mitzvahs, and more. The story of the significance of The Western Wall began when Rome destroyed the most holy site in the Jewish religion, the Second Temple. However, when they destroyed this temple they left the outer wall, thinking that it was insignificant because it was not apart of the Second Temple. Despite what they thought, for the Jews, this outer wall that was left became the most sacred site to their religion. Throughout the years, if Jews leave the country or return, they immediately go to the Western Wall to thank God and pray. It was very interesting to see how many people go to this site and practice their religion.
During my stay in Jerusalem, I hiked up Mount Sinai.
Still on the third day of my trip, I visited Mount Sinai, which is another sacred site to Judaism. Mount Sinai is known to Jewish people as the location where Moses received the ten commandments from God, which is written in the Bible, out of the book of Exodus. The name Sinai means "mountain of God". This mountain is significant to more than one story out of Exodus. Not only is it the place where Moses received the ten commandments, it is the place where God came to Moses in the form of a burning bush telling him to lead his people out of Egypt. Mount Sinai is also the location where Moses struck a rock which then produced pure water, and where Aaron made a golden calf during a campout of the Israelites. As you can see, Mount Sinai has a lot of importance to the Jews, and is a major site of tourism and prayer for believers.
I got to visit the Jordon River which is a really famous location for Christians.
After visiting sacred sites for Judaism in Israel, the fourth day of my trip I traveled East to the Jordan River. The Jordan River runs along the border of Israel and the kingdom of Jordan. The Jordan River is a sacred site for Christianity. It is mentioned very often in the Bible, and is said to have life changing holy waters. Because of this, it is set aside from any other river in the Bible. The Jordan River is very significant for Christians because this is the place where Jesus the Messiah got baptized. This also was the place where many Israelites traveled through in order to get to the promise land, which is a very important story in the Bible. To this day, many Christians still get baptized in the Jordon River. While I was visiting, I saw many people get baptized and have a church service by the River.
I got to go and see the Red Sea which is very sacred to the Christianity belief.
In my research of Christianity, I was led to the Red Sea which lies in between Africa and Asia. I learned a lot about how significant the Red Sea is to Christians. The story behind the importance of the Red Sea goes back to the Bible time. It is recorded that once the King of Egypt, Pharaoh, let Moses and his people go, they crossed the Red Sea. Pharaoh let the Israelites leave his possession, however he changed his mind and send his soldiers after them. Moses led the Israelites to the Red Sea, however they weren't safe because the Egyptian soldiers were on their tail. God parted the sea long enough for the Israelites to escape, and closed it when the Egyptians tried to cross. This story is very important to Christians and their faith. Many Christians use this story to continue on in life if they feel like they can't go on. I saw many Christians come to the Red Sea with their friends and family to pray over each other.
The Kaaba is a very sacred site to the Islam religion and I got to go visit it on my trip!
Visiting sacred sites for Islam was the last day of my trip. I traveled to the Kaaba which is one of the most famous holy sites for the religion. Thousands of people come to worship at the Kaaba every day. Every Muslim tries to take a pilgrimage to the Kaaba at least once a year. The Kaaba is a square building that is covered by a long drape of silk. The ritual for prayer starts with walking around the Kaaba, and trying kiss and touch the black stone located on the corners of the Kaaba. Muslims believe that Abraham and his son constructed the holy site. Also, they believe they should follow the prayer rituals because when Muhammad came, he started worshipping at the Kaaba. Many Muslims follow these rituals to this day, because it is written in the Qur'an. It was very interesting to see the prayers of so many Muslims all in one place, I would like to go again.
The Al-Masjid an-Nabawi was the last place I got to visit on my trip, and it definitely was one of the coolest.
The Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is a mosque that is located in Medina, Saudi Arabia. It was built by the prophet Muhammad, and is now considered one of the largest mosques in the world. The Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is built right next to where Muhammad lived, and is now used as the final resting place for the great prophet, and where his tomb is located. The mosque is a pilgrimage site for many Muslims. They come and stop at the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, because they know the great connection it has with Muhammad and they want to feel that connection as well. Also, Muslims visit the mosque because they believe that they will be shown their good/bad deeds and if they will be granted forgiveness or not. When I visited the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, it was so cool to see how much love and joy filled each Muslim there at the mosque. They believe that they are filled with peace because they are visiting the resting place for Muhammad. The architecture of the mosque is so beautiful, I really enjoyed visiting this amazing sacred site.
MY SACRED SITE
This is Gateway Church, located in Southlake, Frisco, Grand Prairie, North Richland Hills, Dallas, and North Fort Worth, Texas.
This is the religious site that I go to. I attend Gateway Church, which is a Christian church with 6 different campuses located around Texas. I have been going here for 4 years now, and I love it dearly. It has many programs for kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults. At Gateway, they welcome everyone and try to know every individual personally. You can't tell in this picture, but around the side of the church there is a steeple with a cross on it. Because of this architecture, it is made known to people that Gateway is a Christian place. Many people come here and worship, listen to a sermon, and either leave or stay and chat with friends. This church is very dear to me, because I love going and practicing my religion with friends and family. Also, Gateway is very welcoming and I enjoy every service I go to.
I learned so much about how important certain places are to different religions. It was so interesting to see the different practices for each religion, and to see the difference in what each one believed. 5 days was not enough for me to see all I wanted to see! I would love to continue researching more and more religions. Thanks for reading my blog I hoped you enjoyed learning about these religions like I did!