Sat Sri Akaal
Today was a day of journey. We started off with a 10:10 AM flight from Mumbai to Amritsar so we left the YWCA fairly early in the morning. After eating a very quick breakfast, the people at the WYCA were fully prepared with all three of the taxis we needed for all ten of us girls and all fourteen of our suitcases.
We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We checked all of luggage in in bulk so nobody had to pay any extra fees. After making it to our gate, we ate at the airport food court where all of us had different food. I tried out the KFC there and it was fairly good. We moved to settle at our gate, but the gate numbers kept changing so we moved a couple times.Our Spicejet flight left about ten minutes later than scheduled, but we still made it to Amritsar on time. I was a little displeased with their lack of on board snacks, but that was fine as I slept for the majority of the two-hour flight.
Just as we arrived to Amritsar, we were received by our tour guide, John, with a sign for Melissa. We all climbed aboard a large tour bus and headed to the Hyatt hotel. The hotel was amazing and had several amenities, including universal light and air conditioning switch board on the night stand, free WiFi and complimentary water bottles (that were free of charge – we made sure)!After deciding room assignments and quickly freshening up, John took us all to go eat lunch at a very nice restaurant where we had a private room and all of us had gulab jamun for dessert. Then we went to go buy some scarves (duppattas) to cover our heads for the Golden Temple later that night. The place that the driver took us was quite expensive so we walked around some more until we found some for cheaper.
That evening we met with John again to go the Golden Temple. The night time atmosphere was lovely to see with all its warm yellow lights glowing the entire place. We walked around and took several pictures along the way. As we got to the temple itself, we took our shoes off and washed our feet by walking through a small pond of water.
We came to the temple specifically at night to the see the ceremony of putting the sacred book to sleep for the night. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, John taught us about the Sikh religion and for what it stands. It is a reformed sect of Hinduism and has three principals: No caste system, no monks, and no idols. The last part means that wherever you worship, God is beside you. This religion, apart from being a sect of Hinduism, is also a combination of the best parts of all other religions. The structure of the temple itself has four entrances to represent that fact that everyone is welcome from all directions. And one of its main services is that whoever enters the temple should not be thirsty or hungry so volunteers and some people of the temple serve 40-50K people everyday. Some days, this number crosses 100K. We will be seeing this for ourselves tomorrow.
One of of the people passing by was discussing how to say greet one another in the Sikh religion and that is by saying Sat Sri Akaal. “Sat” means truth, “Sri” is a holy word and “Akaal” means God. So the basic translation of this greeting is “true is the name of God”
After watching the ritual of moving the sacred text, we went back to our hotel for the night, excited for tomorrow’s day full of touring Amritsar.