March 18th, 2013
This evening we visited the Bharatiya Hindu Temple in Chalfont, PA.
We were greeted warmly by leaders of the temple community and invited into the large hall downstairs.
There we learned about the physical structure and history of the temple and about the prayer practices that we would experience upstairs in their sacred space. After removing our shoes, we were led upstairs.
Our hosts did a wonderful job of introducing us to the various deities enshrined in the temple, such as Sri Ganesha.
While our hosts explained, worshipers entered the prayer space and we were able to experience the leadership of the three priests present that evening in the temple for Shiva Abhishekam. They rang bells and chanted songs–waving lit candles in the air. Their songs filled the space and the people gathered there also joined in.
We were also able to see the shrine for those who practice the Jain faith.
Soon after, one of the priests began to chant and then he started to fling holy water towards all of us gathered there.
Then, each person was invited forward to participate in a ritual utilizing water from the Ganges River that was placed in our right hand by the priest. We then drank it and received a piece of fruit.
Afterwards, we returned downstairs to the community’s hall for Q&A and some delicious Indian snacks.
I learned so much from this experience! I especially appreciated something that both of our hosts shared:
Any religious practice should make us a better person. That’s the point.