Day 1: Sacred Sites for Hinduism
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You
The world has so much to be explored and today I embarked on the journey I had been planning on my entire life. My mission: expose the secret, hidden, unknown places of the planet and learn new things. Research shows that nearly 13.1% of all people in the world are Hindu. So I wanted to find and scope out one of the great locations that sparks their faith.
It is December 1, 2016. I was able to see so much today. I traveled down into India to perhaps one of the most famous of all holy places for Hindus: Varanasi.
With all its great majesty, it is located on the banks of the Ganges River, almost 500 miles south from the famous city of New Delhi. It is a town of many names as some people call it Benares or even Kashi. And that's why it took me such a long time to find it. Thank goodness one of my buddies was from India. For the first part of the day, he was visiting family, though. Which didn't work to our advantage. Eventually it reached the end of the day, our whole crew was confused out of our minds, and then Vishall met up with us on the road. He was able to get us in the right direction. Finally, we made it to Varanasi, but by that time it was dusk. So we decided to call it day and analyze its inter-workings tomorrow.
Day 2: Sacred Sites for Hinduism
the cDecember 2, 2016: Today was it! We roamed the Varanasi for so long, getting different shots and footage. According to the spokesmen, Varanasi is regarded as the foremost city of Shiva. It was dedicated to the god or deity, Shiva (aka Visvanatha). The famous mandir-the golden tower built in Shiva's name- has been destroyed in years past by Muslim rule, but rebuilt in time. Going around the high arches and complex engraved designs we saw many Hindus, whether they were in peaceful spots, or talking, it all seemed in reverence. Vishall told us many Hindus retire to the city as an act of achieving liberation. As we drove along the river back to the airport, we saw some people scattering ashes into the Ganges. By Vishall's knowledge, the city is also very known for its cremation ghats. Hindus then scatter loved ones' ashes in hopes of benefiting their souls. Well, now its off for another roadtrip.
Day 3: Sacred Sites for Buddhism
Dec. 3, 2016. Our crew is currently sleeping. The plane rides to and from can be so exhausting. While they soundly slumber, I'm recording down the next stop. Next we plan to hit a major Buddhist landmark. I know yesterday was an entire city AND a river, but this time I'm scaling it down: a Buddhist Temple. Ultimately considered as the holiest Buddhist shrine in Burma, the Shwedagon Pagoda or Golden Pagoda is located in Yangon. Yangon is a city in Myanmar.
It is supposedly plated with gold. As for its significance, all I am aware of as of yet is that there was once an interaction between God and the prophets, including Muhammed in the pagoda. Now I will try and get some sleep now.
Day 4: Sacred Sites For Buddhism
December 4, 2016. We managed to see the majority of the pagoda today. From what the translator translated from the Buddhist monk, the pagoda is possibly the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world, being founded almost 2,600 years ago. Additionally, famous and holy relics of Gautama Buddha and other buddhas preceding are enshrined within the pagoda. The impressive umbrella crown on the top of the pagoda is apparently topped with a whopping 5, 448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. That explains why the whole thing, overall is so shiny. The crew spent some extra time trying to get better angles so I was able to really check everything out further.
Day 5: Sacred Sites For Judaism
December 5, 2016. One of the members in our team is a Jew so she recommended the Waling Wall as our next site. I hadn't originally thought of this particular place, I had thought of Jerusalem in Israel, but after looking 'The Western Wall' up, I found it to be the perfect place. So now the crew and I are currently on another airplane. I promise you by the end of this trip, my ears are permanently going to be popped and feel uneven and ache.
Day 6: Sacred Sites For Judaism
December 6. 2016. While it only looks dry, plain, and boring in appearance, the dusty and cracked wall has a huge significance to Jews. It is product of the temple expansion enacted by Herod the Great, considered to be the closest of the four walls built to the original temple. Very much closely associated with the Temple mount. As we saw today, it draws the most tourism for the area and is considered the most sacred place for Jews to pray. We would have much liked to get closer to the wall itself but it was surrounded with a ton of bustling people, crowding our path. But we still were able to get photos from a distance.
Day 7: Sacred Sites For Christianity
December 7, 2016. Being a Christian myself, along with my friends Sophie, Lauren, Emily, Michael and Mark-all members of the crew-we kind of all thought the same thing at once: St. Peter's Basilica. First of all, the interior would be amazing to see in person, since the high ceilings are painted with beautiful interpretations of key Bible stories by Michelangelo. Additionally, it is the start of the widespread light shared with other people by Christians: the start of the evangelism of the gospel. We are all now very much excited to see it. Again, the plane ride was quite annoying and tedious, but it'll all be worth it tomorrow when we see St. Peter's Basilica.
Day 8: Sacred Sites For Christianity
December 8, 2016. Everyone on the crew, a believer or not, was blown away by the amazing architecture and paintings upon the walls and ceilings we encountered today in St. Peter's Basilica. The significance surrounding the Basilica is that Peter, the disciple of Jesus whom Jesus called 'the rock' upon which the church was to be built, was buried in the tomb site right underneath the high altar within the Basilica. So, naturally, all Popes have been inaugurated here, ever since the first pope-Peter-died. What is truly amazing is to see the true evidence of Bible stories I have been reading ever since I was little. It is overwhelming when you then realize that every single bit of it-it's true. That everything will be alright. That God is there, caring and loving. I almost teared up.
Day 9: Sacred Sites For Islam
December 9, 2016. We do actually have a Muslim on our team and he was happy to agree with us on wanting to go to Mecca for the Islam part of the trip. Of course, he has already gone and completed his pilgrimage there but who wouldn't want to go again? it was general knowledge among everyone that Mecca was definitely the place to go. So to the plane!
Day 10: Sacred Sites For Islam
December 10, 2016. Today was definitely hard on the crew. We tried to wrap it all up as much as we could but we knew we were going to miss each other. There is something about going around the world with certain people that makes for a life-lasting relationship with each and every one of them. Mecca was fascinating today. We made sure to include a trip to the Great Mosque of Mecca-the place traditionally visited during pilgrimage among Muslims to Mecca. All Muslims are required, if financially able, to complete the Hajj, or journey to Mecca, the holy city where Muhammed was born. Thus, drawing many, many Muslims annually and creating a multitude of Muslims about the place when we visited. We were able to get great shots.