Religion & Its Mark on The Earth by: max meroney

August 12th, 2013: I just got back from one of the many Tirtha's present in India. A tirtha is a religious place of pilgrimage for Hindus, the tirtha I visited is referred to as Varanasi, or Benares or Kashi. This is an especially important site, as it is one of the seven holy cities in the Hindu religion. This may be the most popular site of pilgrimage for the Hindus, and could very well be one of the oldest cities in the world. It is viewed as sacred due to the fact that it is located very close to the Ganges River, which is also very sacred for Hindus, and it's a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temple serves as many peoples hope to achieve liberation, and it was destroyed then built again under Muslim rule. It is comprised manly of dilapidated stone and is right on the river front. It is very clear that this temple has been here for a very long time.

August 17th, 2013: Wow. Today I decided to make a trip to the Lumbini, and boy am I glad I did. The Lumbini is where Buddha is believed to have been born and it's breathtaking. You can clearly tell this place is sacred and you can get a glimpse of it's past magnificence through the lush fields and overgrown grass. Several beautiful shrines exist from devoted Buddhists, which adds to the awe of Lumbini. Lumbini is one of the four sacred sites in the Buddhist religions, all of which revolve around the life of Buddha. There's the place of his birth, the site of his first enlightenment, his first discourse, and the place of his death. All of these areas happen to be under trees, and this could possibly relate to why Buddhists respect mother nature and her laws so much.

August 21st, 2013: I'm currently laying in my room in Jerusalem after one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Jerusalem is a very sacred place for Jews, and those who do not reside in Jerusalem, often try to visit there at at least one point in their lives. Jerusalem is sacred because it's the ancient capital of Israel and the location of the original temple. The temple is where Moses brought the ten commandments and stored them in a golden box referred to as the Ark of the Covenant. Only one wall of the original temple still stands, and this is the Western Wall. Many Jewish people often make pilgrimages to this wall and place prayers written on paper in the cracks of the wall. By now the wall is almost stuffed to the brim with paper and it's truly a sight to behold.

August 23rd, 2013: After my experiences with Judaism and it's holy sites, I decided to visit the town of Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, and a very significant place to any Christian. There are still some places throughout the city that have withstood the test of time and they stick out like a thumb tack among the sea of pavement and modernized roads. Many Christians, much like the Jews, often try to make a religious pilgrimage to Israel at one point in their lives, due to the many sites of religious significance. In Fact, almost the entire first half of The Bible is set in Israel.

August 27th, 2013: Sadly, my adventures have come to an end, but it is a bittersweet moment of sorts, as I got to see the most sacred place of Islam,the Ka'ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Ka'ba is a shrine, built by Abraham according to Muslim tradition, around a black stone. The Prophet Muhammad specifically designated Mecca as the holy city of Islam and the direction in which all Muslims should offer their prayers. The Kaaba is built around a sacred black stone, a meteorite that Muslims believe was placed by Abraham and Ishmael in a corner of the Kaaba, a symbol of God's covenant with Abraham and Ishmael and, by extension, with the Muslim community itself. It is embedded in the eastern corner of the Kaaba. The Ka'ba (Kaaba) is essentially a giant black cube centered in the middle of a stadium, filled with Muslims. I truly believe that there is no other sight quite as intriguing as thousands of people surrounding a black cube in the middle of a stone Colosseum. It's simply Wonderful.

The Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The Western Wall in Jerusalem
A portion of Nazareth in Israel
The Varanasi overlooking the River Ganges
Segements of several stone pillars in The Lumbini

Credits:

Created with images by Sean MacEntee - "rosary beads" • Al Fassam - "Kaaba" • kellinahandbasket - "Wailing Wall/ Western Wall" • hoyasmeg - "Nazareth from Nazareth Village_0735" • BOMBMAN - "Varanasi......" • manbartlett - "untitled image"

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