Saturday, March 2, 2013

Field trip to a Mandir

Some of my shots from the day!

The boys by the reflecting pool.

The doors to the left is the room where we were "debriefed" so to speak. The steps led up to the Mandir. We used a side door, though, Not the big entrance in the middle.

The drive through the gates.

Last week we got to enjoy a field trip to a local Mandir, or Hindu Temple. It was deceptively cold, which was not fun trying to lug three kids around, but other than that, they day was amazing!
Part of it was a bit over the heads of our younger ones, but it was still an amazing trip. We started off in the gift shop where we got to look around a bit.
Next we got to watch a short video about India and learn the rules of the Mandir. There is no photography and they ask for as much silence as possible. We also learned some of the history of the building. The Mandir was constructed with 34,000 pieces that were each hand carved with over 1.3 million volunteer hours. (I later learned that my dad had volunteered with some of the things they needed during while it was being constructed! Go dad!!) It consists of Turkish limestone, Italian marble and Italian pink sandstone. There is no metal in the structure and it all fits together like a puzzle. The materials were shipped to India, where they were carved and barcoded and then shipped here and assembled. And the whole process only took 17 months!!!  In 17 YEARS, I could not even carve one of these beautiful statues!!
This is a picture of the keystone. A chandelier that holds the whole structure together. If I remember correctly, it weighs 1.7 tons by itself.
We then took the steps up to the entrance to the Mandir. Once inside, we removed our shoes and made our way up to the holy temple. When we walked in, literally my eyes filled with tears. I have never seen anything so beautiful that was made by man. I actually cried from the beauty of that most sacred place. Our guide was speaking to us and after about 7 minutes or so, I realized I was standing there with my mouth still hanging open. It was just fascinating to look at this place.
We were not allowed to take pictures, but I did pull some from their site:

Of course, seeing it in person was something else. We are Buddhist, and there was a whole row of Buddhas carved near the keystone, in the center. It was so beautiful.
There were quite a few sacred shrines in the room. People were walking around, praying to them and doing rituals. They close down several times a day for the shrines to be fed, rest, etc. And everyday, just like a person, they are dressed in a new change of clothes and bathed. I am mesmerized by things like this. I just have a passion for other cultures. (my husband always says I'm more Asian than he is!)
After our tour, we went back to the gift shop and bought lots of yummy Indian foods to try at home.  The boys loved getting to pick out different foods and see how they liked them.  Poor things, though! They picked a chocolate dessert and, well, it certainly wasn't like American desserts. It was a layer of ricotta cheese with chocolate on top. But, the rest they really enjoyed!
I can't wait to go back!!!

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