Monday December 5, 2016
Today I journeyed to the vast lands of India indulging myself in the fascinating cultural knowledge of Hinduism. Along my travels today I picked up quite a few interesting facts along with skills regarding sacred practices I was surprised to learn that Hindu beliefs determine their thoughts and attitudes towards life, which in turn direct their actions. Beliefs about sacred matters, such as God, soul and cosmos, are essential to one's approach to life. Hindus believe many diverse things, but there are a few concept on which most hindus strongly agree. Those include...
- Hindus believe in a one, all pervasive Being who is both immanent and transcendent, this is seen as both the creator and unmanifest reality.
- Hindus also believe in the destiny of the four Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture.
- Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny.
I learned all this and more when visiting the hindu temple known as the Meenakshi Amman Temple. I was amazed by the beautiful architecture found here and just blown away by the cultural patterns found in temples and overall hindu landscaped throughout india. This enormous complex temple is dedicated to shiva, known her in india as Sundareshvara, and his consort Parvat or Meenakshi. The temple is built with many high walls and at the core there are two sanctums for meenakshi and Sundareswara, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. I can't wait to visit the sacred city Uttar Pradesh tomorrow and learn more about this amazing cultural landscape!
Tuesday December 6, 2016
Today I had the privilege to visit Varanasi, a city in India that is famous for being one of India's seven ancient cities, to finish experiencing Hinduism. It is an important city for Hindus because of its religious history. In Varanasi there is the Golden Temple which is dedicated to to Shiva. It is possibly one of India's oldest cities. At Varanasi I saw the Golden Temple and the banks of the Ganges River. However the Golden Temple was destroyed once and then rebuilt again. The city is located along the banks of the Ganges River. The significance of Varanasi is that it is an important pilgrimage site for many Hindus. Some Hindus travel to Varanasi for cremation ghats. They cremate the corpses and scatter the ashes in the Ganges River in belief of that it will release a person's soul.
It has truly been a fantastic experience here in India, I cant wait for my journey to Sri Lanka next week!
Saturday December 10, 2016
Today I finally was able to reach Bhutan and experience the beautiful architecture Buddhist temples have to offer. The scenery was breathtaking and the importance of the Paro Taktsang was informational in understanding this religious temple and its history. The Paro Taktsang attracts many tourists as well as pilgrims and Buddhist monks. The Paro Taktsang is positioned against a 10,000 feet tall cliff which makes this particular temple or monastery unique. Legends tell that the inspiration to build the temple upon a cliff side was because of the eighth century Buddhist monk, Guru Padmasambhava, who had brought Buddhism to Bhutan and was believes that he had meditated in that cliff's cave. Additionally, the Paro Taktsang is one of the thirteen small monasteries where the Guru Rinpoche, also known as the “Second Buddha”, of Bhutan is said to have meditated. The temple was finally done building during the 17th century. Paro Taktsang is definitely one of the amazing sites I have experienced in my life.
Sunday December 11, 2016
Today I decided to take a break and enjoy and take part in the Buddhist religious activities that temples provide.
Monday December 12, 2016
Today I visited Nepal to see one of the sacred sites for Buddhists. I went to visit Lumbini in southern Nepal and it was absolutely amazing because of its rich culture and meaning. I saw the great white building as well as the water next to it that was around the perimeter. It was said that long ago Lumbini was a place with rich, green trees. The significance of this site is that it was the birthplace of Buddha in 563 B.C.. Because of this significance, Lumbini has become a pilgrimage site for many Buddhists.
I had a great time visiting Lumbini and learning all about the buddhist religion!
Thursday December 15, 2016
Today I was able to immerse myself in the Islamic Culture! In order to experience one of the sacred sites the Islamic religion, I visited Mecca which is a city in Saudi Arabia. In Mecca I saw lots of pilgrims that were going to Mecca as it is one of the 5 Pillars in the Islamic religion. I also saw the Kaaba which is the most sacred shrine in the Islamic religion. The significance of Mecca is that a pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the 5 Pillars in the Islamic religion also known as Hajj and also it is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Mecca is known to be the holiest city for Muslims. The city was very massive and hundreds of Muslims were gathered to fulfill one of their duties in their religion.
Friday December 16, 2016
After yesterday I was beyond ecstatic to study the Islamic religions even more, I visited one of Islam's well known mosques. I went to the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi which is in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. I saw that the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi was very large in scale and very wide. It consisted of massive white tower like pillars with entrances from each direction of the building. At night, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi was so majestic and pretty. The exterior was made of marble and beautiful stone. The religious significance is that it was believed to be the established and built by the Prophet Muhammad and was the third mosque to be built in the Islamic history. mosque established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is considered to be a major pilgrimage site where Muslims travel to Mecca to connect with the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is considered to be one of the largest mosques in the world.
I thoroughly enjoyed my amazing opportunity to experience the islamic culture!
Monday December 19, 2016
Today I have traveled to beautiful Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, to learn about Judaism. Jerusalem is considered to be a major sacred site of Judaism. In Jerusalem I saw many synagogues as well as ancient buildings which were very captivating. The significance of this sacred site is that in 1000 B.C.E, this city was made to be the center of the nation of Jews by King David and King Solomon. Many Jewish synagogues are built with the Holy Ark facing Jerusalem to show the importance of the city as the center of Judaism as it was made by King David and King Solomon. The reason why this occurs is because Jerusalem is seen as the holiest city for faith in Judaism. Jerusalem was the site where Jews traveled to celebrate holy festivals and to pray.
Wednesday December 21, 2016
Today I had visited Rome, the capital of Italy, to visit a synagogue which is an important religious architecture of the Jewish religion. The exterior and interior of the synagogue was what drew me in because the synagogue was very large and grand and contained many intricate designs carved by stone which was very beautiful to look at. The synagogue was impressively well made and its religious significance is that shortly after Italy's unification in 1870, Victor Emmanuel II had granted full citizenship to Roman Jews and the building that had originally contained the ghetto synagogue was soon replaced by a newer and a more grand building. The Great Synagogue of Rome was built near the banks of the Tiber River and served as a cultural center for the Jewish community in Rome. Therefore, this particular synagogue was to show the Jewish treatment in Rome becoming more positive despite the persecution they faced.
Friday December 23, 2016
Today I was blessed to visit Bethlehem, a city in Israel, a known sacred site of christianity. The town of Bethlehem was filled with rich history and very ancient looking religious buildings. The religious significance of the town was that it was the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Jesus Christ was brought into the world by the Virgin Mary in a barn . Then a group of shepherds followed a star that led them to the barn that Jesus was born in. Additionally, three wise men had visited to present gifts for baby Jesus and all had rejoiced for the birth of Jesus Christ who was said to be the Savior and was the song of God. Because of the birth of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem became a major Christian pilgrimage destination.
Sunday December 25, 2016
Today I visited the holy cathedral Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore in gorgeous Rome to experience a catholic, one of the branches of christianity, christmas. I was amazed by the beautiful stain glass and breathtakingly high, majestic, ceilings. During this christmas mass the catholic church had an amazing advent wreath on display, there were four cantles, three purple and one pink, lit near the alter. I was amazed by this set of architecture representing the birth and celebrating jesus. I noticed once walking in the long beautiful aisle leading to the huge altar which above hung a beautiful cross. I had a wonderful time celebrating and praising Jesus in the catholic religion of Christianity!