Today we used our time with our tutor to walk to a local Hindu temple. (The poor tutor is trained to teach high school math; with our boys he is doing everything from spelling games to Indian geography to “Microbes and You!”) As the tutor happens to be Hindu, we have spent a few minutes each day reading and asking questions about the Hindu faith. India is primarily Hindu; in fact, the government is working to outlaw the eating of meat in the whole country! We have been almost completely vegetarian since we arrived; interestingly, the boys have not noticed that particular change.
The temple we visited, Gangadeeswarar Temple in our neighborhood of Purasawalkam (there are so many syllables here!), is dedicated mainly to the god Shiva, the god of life, death, and rebirth. Dante drew this picture after our visit (taking photos would have been disrespectful). You can see images from the temple at http://www.purasawalkamgangadeeswarartemple.tnhrce.in/
His picture shows the pillar at the center, as seen through the wildly colorful gate. He noted the chalk drawings/offerings on the ground as we enter, the statues of Shiva and Parvati, and of course, a temple cat.
What I found most interesting about our visit was that, as we walked around the temple complex, there were many 3D paintings on the walls – an Indian version of stained glass – which tell stories from the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures. Looking at the artwork, I couldn’t make hide nor hair of them, but our tutor told us the story behind each one.
Caedmon was not so enthralled – possibly because it was a million degrees out today. His picture was of the cats in the temple complex. But I imagined that for a 7-year-old, seeing that kind of care for life was its own wisdom (there were many bowls of milk, both for bathing the deities and for feeding the cats).
Soon we will chat about the many points of crossover between Hinduism and Christianity… It will be interesting to see what is sinking in for each of us, and what connections we see.