The Golden Temple known as Harmandir Sahib, is located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab state, near the Pakistani border. This a Sikh religion temple, developed in the context of conflict between Islamist and Hindu belief in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is said that this temple was built with seven hundred and fifty kilograms of pure gold between 1588 and 1604 by Guru Arjan Dev. In addition to being made of gold the temple has four entrances, one on each side, which symbolize the opening of the Sikh religion to all religions in the world among other aspects that are embodied in the teachings of their gurus. The temple is surrounded by a lake called Amritsar (as the city name) meaning pool of nectar in which thousands of pilgrims visiting the temple have the opportunity to take a bath.
Most believers of this religion visit this place at least once in their lives. The temple is open 24 hours and people around the world regardless of race, religion, skin color, social status, age and gender are welcome to enter and be part of everything that takes place there. This is because one of the values and teachings that professes the Sikh religion is to see God in everyone; understand and practice equality regardless of differences. However there are some rules of conduct that must be met during the visit to this place between these head coverings, not wearing shoes, dress modestly, be respectful, sit on the floor to show respect to his Guru and God, do not take pictures inside the Golden Temple, not drinking, not eating and not take hallucinogenic substances. If you do not have a scarf or anything to cover your head you can purchase one at the entrance of the temple. It is also possible to find places provided by the temple to store shoes and places to store luggage, bags, etc. Both are free, staffed by Sikh volunteers.
The Sikh religion is based on the belief in one God and in the teachings of the ten gurus, these studies focus on different values, among them see God in every person, remember God all the time, value and respect the positive ideals (truthfulness, compassion, joy, humility, love, etc.), the abolition of internal diseases (lust, anger, greed, material attachment, selfishness, etc.), man should lead a productive, honest and peaceful life as householder, practicing selfless service, build a community life of love and contribute to society, be prepared to protect and represent the rights of the weak to fight for justice and equity, always accepting God’s will, focus and maintain positive and optimistic spirit.
Visit not only the temple but also the state of Punjab in general can be an enriching and unforgettable experience, not only for the beauty that this place offers but especially its people, its gastronomy and its traditions. The Sikh people are overflowing with kindness, hospitality and joy, always be willing to share everything with you from their belongings to their beliefs and teachings. However you can get to think that they are a little eccentric by their dress and personality. During my stay there, I was very curious about different things, as see that most people are armed all the time, either with swords, daggers or firearm in some cases. Daggers are common mainly among women, though Sikhs are not violent people, this is actually a symbol of power, freedom of spirit and respect for themselves. Once a Sikh told me that these weapons cannot be used to attack, but can be used for self-defense or to protect a third, also he mentioned that if someone does something against his family are willing to kill, since their religion also teaches them to be warriors.
Sikhs are also recognized by their turbans of different sizes and colors that surround and cover the long hair of the men, since as their beards are never cut in their lives. Then I realized that these are some of the “five K” or articles of faith in their religion which are: Kesh (long hair and uncut) Khanga (wooden comb), Kara (metal bracelet), Kacha (cotton underwear) and kirpan (sword or dagger).
During the visits to the Golden Temple, in the afternoon is possible to observe the ceremony in which are displayed the different emblems of the Sikh religion, which are composed of four instruments that have a different meaning each, the Khanda an straight sword that symbolizes knowledge of God, the Kirpans a curved sword that represent political and spiritual sovereignty and the chakkar disc-shaped that symbolize the oneness of God.
Also if you visit the temple at mealtimes either in the morning, noon or night you can attend to the canteen that is part of the temple, which is also the largest in India, you will provide with food completely free and with added value, the Punjabi food is the best one in all India, a proof of this is that no matter where in India you are, from north to south, you will always be eating mostly food from Punjabi, so I recommend not miss the opportunity to visit it. Likewise, if you arrive early to the temple you can get free accommodation for up to two days, there have lounges fitted with beds for tourists and pilgrims without some cost, however it is appropriate to make a donation for each day you are there, since the temple works one hundred percent with donations and volunteer work of the Sikh people.
In my case I did not stay there, but enjoyed the hospitality and kindness of a Sikh, who received us in his house completely free to myself and two people traveling with me, a german guy and a polish girl, who I met during my first months in India. His house was on the outskirts of Amritsar and he was one of the many people who welcomed us without any interest. But this particular place, when we arrived we thought we had the wrong address, because they were about 10 at night and the house was guarded by men armed, it was like a palace with camels and horses at the entrance, many luxuries and details and our host an adorable Sikh who inspired a lot of respect as everyone there. Something very special is that this man is not wealthy, simply wanted to preserve the heritage of his family and its history and makes a great effort to do it working as shoes seller, in the house live some people who help him with the maintenance of the property and the single payment, to call it somehow, was buy our food to them, who besides cooking and maintenance also perform dances as entertainment.
Versión en Español: EL TEMPLO DORADO, UN LUGAR LLENO DE ENSEÑANZAS