My Journey to the Golden Temple
Last year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to India, not only to meet relatives and visit my grandfather’s village, but to explore this vast country with such diverse climates, cultures, cuisine and people.After travelling to the south, then heading north to Delhi, my parents and I headed to Chandigarh for a few days, which was followed by a week-long stay in Punjab. It was an amazing experience, as my three phuaji’s and father were reunited for a mini-family reunion, and I just feel blessed to have been in their joyful presence.
You can’t travel to Punjab, and not visit the holy city of Amritsar. So, on a chilly, cloudy morning, 10 of us travelled for three hours to this wondrous destination. As a child, I always knew that one day I would see Harmandir Sahib, the Golden Temple, in person, and it was a surreal experience driving into Amritsar and seeing glimpses of the complex from afar. The excitement began to brew, and when I arrived outside the complex, I was anxious to enter the sacred grounds. After removing our shoes and heading to one of the entrances, we crossed a threshold of water to not only cleanse our feet, but perhaps it’s a way for individuals to wash away any sins before entering the holy grounds of the Harmandir Sahib, the “abode of God.” At first sight, you immediately feel mesmerized by its magnificent splendour, followed by a sense of peace and calm.
Walking around the complex, you can see the beautiful architectural details in the marble and there are historical plaques honouring Sikh soldiers and prominent figures throughout history. As it’s still a bit chilly, many people are not taking the traditional full bath in the cleansing, holy water of the sarovar, which surrounds the central temple building. I decide to wade into the holy waters, but after a minute or so, the cold catches up with me, but I’m glad I braved the weather and entered the sarovar. I did notice fish of varying sizes in the holy water, and I later learned the fish are present in the sarovars to keep the water clean and pure. The sun eventually broke out through the clouds, and the Golden Temple sparkled like the gem it is.
My family and I proceed closer to Harmandir Sahib, and I am awestruck at the intricate, ornate details carved into the gold – what a sight! We make a donation, and with karah prasad in hand, we join the line and head towards the entrance of the temple. As we get closer, I can hear the priest reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib; I enter the temple and once again, am overwhelmed by its beauty. There is a sense of holiness, an almost magical sensation, in the atmosphere. After bowing (matha tek) before the priest and Granth, I follow my cousins and walk around the interior of the temple. We head to the second floor, which is home to the original Adi Granth, it is large in size and the Punjabi script is quite visible. I once again bow in respect.
I head to the top level/roof of the temple, and there is a priest here as well reciting from the Granth. I take a look around the complex; it is not only architecturally and naturally beautiful with trees, sarovar and flowers, but a true testament to the strength of the Sikh faith against all the odds it faced from invading Mughals to the Anglo-Sikh Wars in the late 1800’s to modern-day adversity. I venture outside the Golden Temple and sit down; it feels nice to have the warmth of the sun on my face. Listening to the paath and kirtan, you are filled with instant joy, serenity and calm. It is such a mixture of powerful emotions, it brings tears to my eyes, and I can truly say I feel at peace and one with God.
I am thankful to my parents for the amazing opportunity to visit incredible India, to meet my relatives and visit my grandfather’s pend but mostly for fulfilling my childhood wish of visiting the Golden Temple one day…