Right down the road from our hostel was the beautiful Hindu Temple- Sri Mahamariamman Temple. It’s one of the largest non-Buddhist temples in Thailand, and is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman (the goddess of rain of Southern India), but many other gods and goddesses are present at the temple. It was built in the late 1800’s and was the very first Hindu temple I had ever been to. I also studied Hinduism, although not to the extent that I have studied Buddhism, therefore I was so excited to see this religion in reality instead of just reading from text books.
Stalls all around this temple sold offerings of flowers and there were trinkets you could pick up as well. (I got a Ganesh pendant and a Kali pendant.)
We walked by one day during a pooja & ceremony dedicated to Ganesh! It was really beautiful. We stood outside the temple and watched from a distance until a teenage boy came up and talked to us about Hinduism. He was from India and told us that what we looked like and were dressed in (we were unsure of entering because we had shorts on), what mattered was that we’re pure of heart.
After talking with him, we walked through and talked to a couple of people. I’m sure that we looked very confused.
We received milk and water that had been blessed that were poured into our hands, which we drank and poured over our heads. Then the priest walked back through and marked us with a vinhuti (the ash dot on my forehead). It’s made from burning a holy wood and is meant to remind you to not be focused on worldly temptations.
The next morning was out last in Bangkok and also happened to be Easter Morning. Instead of visiting a church that day, we celebrated the beautiful diversity of this world by going back to the Hindu temple. However, this day, we bought flowers to leave as offerings to Kali (the goddess of empowerment).
It was so amazing to get to experience this religion hands-on, and to be able to do so on a day that I would normally have a very different set of traditions. Amazing. Seriously, when you travel, take time to get into the culture; there’s nothing else like it!
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