NEXT TWO MONTH'S MEETINGS

- 12th December - 7:00pm : Christmas Party - Bring a Friend.
- 16th January - 8:00pm : The Anouka Chronicles - A Contemporary Narnia. By Philippa Joyner.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Summer Outing to the Punjab ?

 Not quite the Punjab -  Gravesend in fact!  The Shri Gurn Nanak Darbar Gurwara Temple.

Where the largest Sikh Temple outside India has been built It is a very impressive building, and the people we met there were also impressive, very friendly, welcoming and hospitable.

We had been warned that we must take off our shoes, and don a headscarf and we prepared ourselves, but it seemed that our guide could not be found. 

So we were asked to climb the stairway and wait for our guide upstairs on the first floor. While we waited we were  taken to an enormous  refreshment room to join others in a drink of tea or water 


Once  we were acquainted with our our Guide she could not have been more helpful.
She told us about the history of the religion, the various Guru and the temple itself. It seems that there is little heirarchy within the religion.  We asked lots of questions and she answered them all. Anyone is welcome at any time providing you keep to the few rules re shoes and headscarves and respect for others.  

There were three large rooms each  with a central awning in which the 'bible' is displayed.  Each room has a massive  domed roof and large chandelier.   The floors were carpeted, but each carpet was covered by enormous sheets to keep the carpets clean.

Visitors of any race or creed  (including ourselves) were welcome to greet the Holy Man 
The Swords Dagger and Shields were on display to remind the Sikhs that in 15th Century the religion has been started, and it had been necessary to fight to be allowed to worship a single god rather than the many gods of other Indian religions.   It originates from the Punjab region of India.
The Holy Book is consulted. 

We were taken around three floors, the library, the PA rooms,  and even a room with three double beds in it.  We thought they might be for early risers as the prayers start at 3.30am in the morning, but instead we were told that they were the resting place of the three Holy books when they were not being used. 
                       
                            
This gentleman gave us each a sweet treat - it tasted like sugared maize and it was not to everyones taste.  Before leaving we were taken back into the restaurant and this time chapatties and curry were on the menu,  very spicy. Most of us had just a spoonful, but Jean Kelly's husband enjoyed his so much he had a second helping of a different curry. This was accompanied by a milk pudding - rather like rice pudding, but made with thin noodles.   We were not sure whether this was to dull down the hot curry, or to be eaten separately.   Our Bible may talk about 'feeding the 5000' but at this temple there are around 10,000 people expected in the winter at one of their special events -  so a bit more complicated than arranging a WI Tea.

                         
The outside of the building is made of different kinds and colours of marble imported from India. Indian  stonemasons came here to carve the Marble. The wonderful carved wooden balustrades inside are also of Indian origin.  There are large and small stained glass panels which include the signs and symbols of the religion.

There is a website which  gives a more information   www.guramankdarbar.org and you can contact them via this site.  Take the opportunity to visit - make a day of it.  You could also visit the  Church in central Gravesend where the grave of Pocahontas,  the American Indian Princess is to be found, and take  to the seas(or river) on a Passenger  Ferry across to Tilbury and back.

Our excuse for not eating much was that we had a Carvery Lunch planned at 'Copperfields' on the way home which we all enjoyed.  An excellent day and a chance to see how others live and conduct themselves.