Often our meals are buffet style because it is easy to feed a large group. Our dinner last night was served to us. Steaming hot chicken, spaghetti and antipasto. This is an Indo style Italian place Ranvir chose to give us a break from Indian food.
I chuckled at this because it looks like Kathy is quite unsure of what is coming from behind.
But the main event today is a visit to the largest Sikh Temple in the world.
Before you can enter the temple, they have a place outside of the grounds where visitors must cover their heads and either go barefoot or put on temple socks. Here Paul and Trish get covered.
Theo, Chris and Hugo.
We tend to regard this a bit humorously, but it is very important to respect the customs of the Hindu people and appreciate the enormity and generosity of this place.
The Holy Book is treated like a being. The priests ritually bring the Holy Book or Scroll out during the day, and put it to bed at night. There are signs, no speaking; no photos. But people, Indians as well, use cell phones and take pictures. So, we do too, if a bit guiltily.
The koran is read 24 hours a day. Though more people are educated now than ever before, older people cannot read.
This is the bedroom where you can peek through the windows and people here were especially reverent. One woman whispered to me, no photos. I put my camera away and took no more.
But this temple is special because it can feed thousands of people a day during holidays. And on any given hour, there is 250 to 300 people eating a meal, and another 200 or more in a waiting area, for their turn. This practice continues every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.
The men standing are dishing out food from a bucket onto each plate.
This gives you an idea of the enormity of the hall. Isn’t this an awesome accomplishment?
What is even more impressive is that the temple elders, and wealthy supporters and their families, voluntarily do the kitchen work. Here they are cutting up melon slices.
Some need seats because they come from homes that are furnished and no longer serve meals on the floor.
Carrots in India are red. This full tub with seasonings is waiting to be put in a cooker.
Bags of rice, beans and noodles are overseen by a watchful storekeeper.
A huge machine mixes and rolls the dough for nan.
Mothers and children work in shifts.
It takes a great deal of effort just to provide the bread.
Cooked and turned on a giant burner that can hold about 160 pieces of nan at a time.
Huge pots from which they fill the buckets of hot food for those waiting.
This bank of home-made gas burners make a giant stove.
A second area where food is heating to be poured into the pots as they empty.
Theo stands next to a great pot to give a perspective on size.
What I found equally impressive is the friendliness of the people. They work hard, and bend to the task, but they are cheerful and smiling. Not a grumble is heard.
We leave the temple with the ever resourceful Hugo, setting himself up as a traffic policeman so we could all safely cross the street to get to our bus. He supplies such levity and keeps everyone smiling.
Our next stop was this silk carpet emporium.
The beauty and the hand work that takes to make carpets like these is significant.
You look at a carpet like this and can’t help but ask, is this a painting?
I bought a silk carpet in Turkey and I was disappointed that this place was just a showroom. It did not show the process from gathering the cocoons, expelling the larvae, to pulling the strands to make silk thread, and then watching the workers make the rug.
Even so, they have great beauty, and I bought one. The color from my camera is so different from the real thing that it is surprising.
As we left the showroom, two children were looking for handouts. They seem healthy. They have shoes. Ranvir tells us that children of poor families have free health care, and they can get food from the government. I sometimes wonder if the word actually gets to the people it is intended to serve. More tomorrow.