What I loved so much about Amritsar was the authenticity and the lack of tourists. Many people just skip over this world wonder and I was contemplating skipping it as well, but I decided to make a stop and I am thankful for my experience. Amritsar has the most wonderful people- they are so genuinely sweet it melted my heart.
Overall, the Punjab culture has proved to be smart, well dressed, more hygienic, jolly, sophisticated, and just pleasant. I was not sure what to expect, but I just knew I would love the turbins and the jolly bellies because I get such enjoyment from these kind of people. They make me feel like a child staring at Santa Claus ha. Their jolly smiles, big bellies, Turbins, and sweater vests with loafers-adorable!
On the street, the vendor gives me a traditional silver bracelet. Sieks wear a silver bracelet on their right wrist. It is not fancy at all-very simple, but a tradition for the culture. The streets are packed with many colors of turbins, children carrying ice cream cones with their family, street vendors selling traditional crafts like swords, feather brooms, gold portraits of Gods, and medieval pieces. Dry fruits, papaya, oranges, and kulfi are their specialities as well.
Stopping at the Jallianwala Bagh-the site of April 13, 1919 massacre of hundreds of British troops. It sits in close proximity to the Golden temple. While I stroll around I am not very impressed with the place, but understand the history is quite powerful. I just stroll around and stare deeply into the Martyr well. It reminds me of Silence of the lambs where the girl is stuck deep down in this well being tortured-creepy.
About to leave, I am approached by a man named Singh. He tells me that Amritsar is full of great people, but also it is full of romance. Priscilla to herself, “Oh here we go again.” He asks if I would like to go to dinner with him in a kind way and I decline because I am going to have dinner with my couch surfer(boy I wish I accepted after hanging out with my couch surfer who was just interested in drinking and I am not).
Leaving off to the Golden Temple- From a distance, the Golden temple did not look like much, but walking inside was a very different experience. The Golden Temple is the religious center for the Siek Religion. When you first walk in you give your shoes over to a line full of Punjab’s who lock them up for you. You then walk barefoot into the holy water, down the red carpet stairs, and off into a wonderland of white pillars and Gold. The red carpet continues along the large body of holy water(the Holy pool of Nectar) where the Golden temple sits in the middle. The cue to go in the Golden temple is filled with what looks to be about a thousand people. 90 percent of the time I make sure to get the full experience and I would wait in line, but this time I decided to skip it and just enjoy things peacefully and slowly.
In different areas, they offer you holy waters in bowls. There are elderly ladies sitting on the floor hand cleaning bowl by bowl. Above the prayer center in the balcony, they have a royal ceremony with spiritual leaders flashing their swords and a man dusting them over with white feathers. There is a sparkling pink ceiling with a royal red couch where they are seated. People are kneeling on the floor beneath them with such dedication and love for their religion. To give a clearer picture, it reminds me of the balcony in Romeo and Juliet with the followers all lined up beneath the balcony.
I meet a nice family at the lake who keep speaking Hindi to me and I try my best to respond with the little bit of Hindi I know. I pass my many men bathing in the water in just their underwear dipping their head under one, two, and three times. My couch surfing friend comes to meet me and we have dinner in the upstairs dining area with hundreds lined up being served chapatti, dal makani, rice curd, and subji. A mentally challenged lady sees me sitting and starts shouting at me in Hindi and then hits me really hard on the back. I am mindful of her illness and pay no attention because I know she is ill. But I must say she hit my back pretty hard-of course right near my spine injury-ouch!
We go downstairs where it is a 15 minute prayer time. In front of the water, the Golden temple is glowing with followers on their knees and then standing up at their specific cues. The water is glistening and the air is blowing around a special breeze. This breeze was not your average breeze rather it was a breeze from way up above. I felt it and I think many of his followers felt it too. I decided walking around that I love this temple way more than the Taj mahal because of the holiness that comes from the people, the rituals, the religious leaders, the library, and the overall atmosphere.
After we left, I found out that you can sleep at the Golden Temple. Something I would have loved to do-oh well maybe next time, but we never know if there will be a next time for things so seize it now. PRIS