Religion and Temple Visits in India
One of the great things about our trip to India is learning about different religions. We have been so lucky to visit many temples during our stay in Manipal. From visiting these temples we are able to learn a little about each religion and the history behind the temples we visit.
We were able to take a day trip to Karkala where we went to the 1000 Pillars Temple and the famous statue of Gommateshwara—both are associated with Jainism.
Jainism is an Indian religion that promotes extreme nonviolence towards all living beings. Those who practice the Jain religion follow three main principles: Ahisma (nonviolence), Anekantavada (Non-absolutism), and Aparighara (Non-possessiveness). Jains also believe that all religions are equal. Jainism religion is practiced by 6.1 million people around the world, with over 4 million of them residing in India.
1000 Pillars Temple: We were able to have a tour of this temple from a personal tour guide who explained to us the history of the temple, built in 1163 AD, and the Jain religion itself. The temple was beautiful and he explained that the temple was given its name because it is actually made up of 1000 pillars—and not one single pillar was like another.
Gommateshawara statue: This statue stands at 42 feet and was built in 1432 AD. This year Jain priests will be pouring a sacred bath of saffron paste, milk, and water as part of a festival that only occurs every 12 years.
We were also able to visit a Tibetan settlement and monastery. This is one of two settlements in Southern India where Tibetans moved to after 1959. It is estimated that about 70,000 Tibetans live in Southern India in Bylakuppe settlement and its twin settlement 6 km away, Kushangarla. We were able to visit the Namdroling Monastery and visit the Golden Temple while at the settlement.
These places were great to learn about different religions but the people at each place really made the experience. Every person we met was eager to tell us about the religion, the festivals, and the history.
As nurses, we encounter people from all different backgrounds and cultural beliefs. Our trip to India gives us the opportunity to continue to challenge ourselves personally and professionally to be open to new ideas and beliefs. The visits to the temples and talking with the local people continue to be amazing experiences for all of us.