Last week we took a trip for our culture class to a place called Southall, just outside London. As we arrived and got off the train we realized that we were in for an interesting day. Although we had only traveled a short distance, it felt like we were in a whole new country. We walked over to a Sikh Temple called Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall. Upon entering the temple we were asked to remove our shoes and cover our hair with a scarf. Luckily, all us ladies chose to accessorize our outfits with scarves this day so we were set.
After we prepared ourselves to enter the temple we headed upstairs. At the top of the stairs were a set of doors. We walked through the doors and across a long carpet. At the end oft he carpet was a large shrine containing a book. In the Sikh religion, they have a set of scriptures called the Gurdwara. This book is complied of all the thoughts and wisdoms of ten Gurus that existed many many years ago. We payed our respects to the book by bowing and donating a small amount of money in a pan. The actual Sikh's put their foreheads to the floor and give a large sum of money. We then backed away from the book slowly, as it is disrespectful to turn your back towards the book. As we did this we tried not to trample anyone. Tried being the operative word. One of us..okay me...tripped over a person while backing up. Luckily it was a girl from our group and not a stranger. Regardless, it was embarrassing. But I dealt with it. After spending some time sitting in front of the book we backed up once more and headed back down the stairs. As we entered the stair case we were handed a warm mushy substance. Turns out this is food. Well, whatever it was tasted awful and it was all I could do not to throw up after trying a small piece. Then we went to a cafeteria area to eat some langar. This langar is a meal provided in the temple everyday offered to anyone who enters. After the mushy substance incident I was not eager to try to food. However, I had a few bites off my friend Courtney's plate and it wasn't as horrible as I imagine. I will continue to be grossed out about the whole situation though. I mean, I love my culture but don't mess with my food.
We had a short question and answer session with a Sikh where we learned many new things. Sikh's are required to always have with them the five K's. Which are garments, a knife, all their hair in a turban(that they never cut in their whole life), a comb, and a bangle. I thought it was interesting to see some of similarities between the LDS church and the Sikh's. We both are required to pay tithing and wear garments as symbols for our gospel.
After leaving the Sikh temple we went to two different hindu temples. I didn't enjoy the Hindi temples as much as liked the others. These temples were full of many idols and elaborate designs. There were many bright colors and flashing lights. At times it had a sort of Vegas like feeling to it.
After visiting the temples we spent some time in the town. WE bought some bangles and magic corn and even got some henna in order to indulge in the culture on a greater scale.
We finished the day in Southall with a meal at an Indian Restaurant. It was a very cultural day and I learned a lot. My views of the world are widened every day.