Above is the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the Hindu place of worship where the mind becomes still. Some weekend ago, I invited a friend to see something different and learn something different with me. I noticed a contrast between the website depictions and the in-person experience. The mandir and the other isolated structures were grand in a smaller way than expected, but the overwhelming serenity could not have been imagined.
No photography or recording is allowed in the mandir itself. To preserve the sanctity, shoes must be removed before setting foot onto any part of the mandir and modesty in dress is requested. No skirts shorter than knee length, so I thought I was dressed appropriately until asked to wear a long skirt garment over my clothes. No problem, but inside I felt embarrassed and apologetic.
The most eye-opening part of the tour and the introduction to Hinduism was this parallel to my Christian faith. The concept of the soul and the need for its enrichment exposed the lacking nourishment of my spirit. My inner voice yelled in a panic, "Oh, my soul! My poor soul!" In Hinduism, the soul is undesecrated, owning nothing. In its current body the soul is dirtied. This dirt determines the next body for reincarnation. Whatever you consume, you become, whether that is food or music or television. Doesn't that make your eyes widen? I could not stop thinking about trying to balance between secular and non-secular. And I wonder whether the pursuit of happiness (or fun or entertainment) cancels out the pursuit of a pure soul/spirit.
Visiting the mandir left me in a reflective mood. I asked few questions because I kept dwelling on certain kernels of speech about the soul and achieving peace and knowing God. I had already planned to return to church after a three week absence, but this experience created an anticipation within me to go to my own place of worship. Altogether, it was lovely to visit. Beautiful to see and beautiful to learn.
|No deception: short sleeves on a December weekend|
|See how intricately beautiful!|
A little commentary on my sartorial choices, I suppose: It was another case of I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-my-hair-so-let-me-make-up-a-way-to-tie-a-headscarf-on-the-fly. I love this midi stretch pencil skirt but I haven't worn it as often as I would because I never know what to pair it with. On this day I found a cool casual combo (and I might have been trying to really show out...modestly, of course). The color coordination was absolutely happy and unconscious circumstance.
What I'm Wearing
Cynthia Rowley t-shirt // Topshop textured skirt // Antoniazzi Firenze leather belt // Report oxfords // Rebecca Minkoff Mac bag // that one purple scarf
So obviously, this is a delayed post. That warm and sunny early December weekend is long gone and we're deep into Christmastime and wintertime. Holiday spirit and tradition are on blast everywhere and these photos don't exactly highlight that. But no matter. Despite my lack of holiday-inspired posts, I still wish everyone a wonderful end of the year season. Reflect, rejoice, and enjoy.
Merry Christmas Eve Eve!!