every morning the sikh holy book, the guru granth sahib, is transported from its protected storage space into the golden temple around 4am. an impressive processional with care and precision, ritual and tradition.
it is cold at 4am. walking barefoot on marble is cold at 4am. you can see your breath. you can feel your toes going numb one by one. but it doesn’t matter.
ik onkar is the symbol, universal oneness. we take a seat in the golden temple. i am shown to a space amidst about 30 indian women sitting crossed-legged near the durbar sahib, or altar space/court. i squeeze in and immediately the cold disappears. the warmth of their bodies surrounds me. the warmth of their words surrounds me. i shrink down inside myself. for an hour we sit listening to the music by the raagis. the beating of the tabla and eerie cadence of the harmonium. letting the sounds penetrate the darkness of dawn.
and then, the processional begins. the holy book makes its way to the court. wrapped in crisp, clean white fabric. topped with decorations and flowers. it is carefully unwrapped layer by layer, cleaning off each layer with extreme precision. hymns being recited by multiple rotating men or jathedars. and finally, it opens. we listen. we stand. we sit. we pray. we exit.
without asking this time, jasprit translated the message of the day to me: you must first realize that you are in everything. you cannot satisfy your hunger until you see yourself in others.
others. every gurdwara has a langar hall which serves a free meal to anyone who wants one. the one at the golden temple serves 10,000 people per day. we joined for some chai and biscuits. we stopped and watched them make three bean lentil dal in huge vats being stirred with big metal oars. the scent of heaven and smoke filling the air.
as we exit the golden temple area, it is still dark. i never did see the gurdwara in the daylight. probably better that way, it was so magical in the darkness.
we stop at a small restaurant just outside and get some chai. i opt for a glass of warm milk. jasprit informed me the night before that amritsar has the best milk in the world, so of course the night before i went to bed with a warm glass of milk. the milk here is from water buffalo though. there is definitely a bit of a different taste, but not much.
we drank our chai and got a personalized demonstration on how to make stuffed naan in the tandori oven. every time i see a tandori oven, i think of my good friend aisha and my trip to visit her in ohio in fifth grade. we went to an indian restaurant, and i remember watching the naan slapped up against the hot sides of the oven, the dough bubbling and making my mouth water.
it still does the same thing. sara ❤ naan.
back to the hotel. time to actually start the day. it is 8am.
rest time. for me this means pump out an e-newsletter, take a business call then a personal call on google hangout, and transfer everyone’s photographs to my external hard drive. seven days, three cameras, over 10gb of photos. eat breakfast and get ready to head out on the town.
a quick stop at the museum of maharaja ranjit singh who donated the money to turn the golden temple gold and was a powerful leader. lots of dioramas that were informative but slightly creepy.
and then into town we go.
jasprit and teresa always buy fabric for the russayog yoga studios from one store in amritsar (they are local celebrities everywhere we go in india). sardar pagri house, a fabric store that has been open for 65 years. shelf after shelf of bright colored fabrics typically meant for the turbans worn by sikh men. at the russayog studio, we create doras with the fabric, and they are used in many of the postures and exercises. i don’t know what i am going to do with nine meters of fabric, but i had to buy some. blue, green, and purple.
and what goes best with a bunch of beautifully colored fabric? new shoes!
we switched into girl mode and each found a pair of super cute punjabi slip on shoes. yep, i said it, SUPER CUTE. when i am home and you see them on my feet, please refrain from stealing them off my feet like dorothy.
and what goes best with new shoes? a new churidar (indian dress)!
and what goes best with a new churidar? sugar cane water with lemon and ginger (best drink ever)!
after we were shopped out, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and head back to the train station. six hours back to delhi. another day in delhi and off to jaipur on sunday morning.
thank you amritsar. you are beautiful. i will be back.