How To: Enter a Temple

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In this post, I’ll explain the tradition of entering an Indian temple. First of all, there innumerable temples in India, ranging in faith from Hindu to Jain to Panjabi Krishna and more. Each temple is dedicated to a different God or Goddess. For example, there is a temple in Dhrangadhra (the town in which we are living) dedicated to the Goddess of wealth. We have also visited temples that are specifically created for people to pray when they are in need of certain things. For example, we went to a temple in Modhera dedicated to  children with learning disabilities and those who are transgendered.

Here is how you are supposed to enter a temple:

Before you enter, some general guidelines to keep in mind

*Make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing (i.e. shoulders and chest covered for women, along with pants/skirts/dress that lay well passed your knees and males wear any shirt and pant combo)

*Ask if you are allowed to take pictures before you actually take them!

*If you are a woman who is menstruating, do not enter the temple out of respect for tradition

And the official steps

  1. Take off your shoes.
  2. If there is a bell, you can ring it to symbolize that you are there for the God or Goddesses to hear.
  3. Bend down to touch the bottom of the temple entrance with your right hand.
  4. Take that same hand and touch your heart, and then motion over your face, and then head, like you are pushing your hair back in the air. This signifies that your prayer comes from your heart and all of your body.
  5. Enter temple.
  6. Walk up to the idol in the center of the temple.
  7. Bow down on your knees and recite prayer.
  8. Receive the chandla and the Prasad piece of candy or fruit that the priest gives you to eat, as a thank you for showing your praise to the God or Goddess.
  9. Retreat away from the center of the temple, making sure not to turn your back to the God or Goddess.
  10. Sit for at least one minute in the temple to show the God or Goddess that you are not simply there to ask for something. You have to show respect to the God.

I have also noticed that there are many holidays in India, or days to remember past events and history. Apparently, praying on these various days is like going through a portal and instantly getting to the event thousands of years previous. Pretty neat concept, right?

Here are a few of the highlight temples that we have visited:

Nal Sarovar, Gujarat-Nal Sarovar Burd Sanctuary: Mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring, it is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India.  We stopped to look around, climb the stairs and enter the Temple!

Nal Sarovar, Gujarat-Nal Sarovar Burd Sanctuary: Mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring, it is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India. We stopped to look around, climb the stairs and enter the Temple!

Upon entering the Temple at the sanctuary, we were immediately offered the customary chai (tea).

Upon entering the Temple at the sanctuary, we were immediately offered the customary chai (tea).

Modhera, Gujarat-The temple dedicated to children with disabilities and those who are transgendered.

Modhera, Gujarat-The temple dedicated to children with disabilities and those who are transgendered.

Modhera Sun Temple!  The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya.  It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty.

Modhera Sun Temple! The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty.

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A panorama of the beautiful Sun Temple.

The walls and columns inside are carved with elaborate depictions of Hindu stories and poses found in the kama sutra.  Indians are meant to come to this temple to learn about sex.

The walls and columns inside are carved with elaborate depictions of Hindu stories and poses found in the kama sutra. Indians are meant to come to this temple to learn about sex.

Tourist picture on the side of the Sun Temple!

Tourist picture on the side of the Sun Temple!

Temple in Patri, Gujarat!  Vibrant colors make this temple look like candy land.

Temple in Patri, Gujarat! Vibrant colors make this temple look like candy land.

A Temple right on our own backyard of Dhrangadhra.  No women were allowed in this Temple as it is part of a Hindu school where boys are taught how to live.

A temple right on our own backyard of Dhrangadhra. No women were allowed in this Temple as it is part of a Hindu school where boys are taught how to live a pure life.  It was a gorgeous temple, full with beautiful music, lights, and decorations.

Temples come in all sizes and shapes.  This Temple was in front of one of the local women's houses!

Temples come in all sizes and shapes. This temple was in front of one of the local woman’s houses!

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