As you’re parking your car, you can’t help but be stupefied by the beautiful landscape. The amazing temple, completed with stone, stained in a white and gray-ish tone mystifying our gorgeous Texas skies. As you enter it’s gates, the silence and faint whispers from the people that join you for the day, add a little more mystery to the experience. I would be lying to you if I said I knew exactly what to expect. I thought I did, but as I watched everyone walking towards the temple and take off their shoes, I felt for a second as I was in a foreign land. I couldn’t really understand what the rest of the folks were saying, they spoke in their wonderful native language, but I could sense their emotions, peace radiated from their inner bodies. I took off my shoes and as I walked up the stairs towards the entrance, I looked back and try to soak in all the euphoria.
A man, in a traditional Indian outfit, welcomed us and passed a pamphlet. I felt all eyes on me, I was an Alien in this scenario, they could see right through me, only three other non-Indian Americans surrounded by groups of other native Indians and Indian Americans families.I walked into the temple and I was in awe. Breath-taking sculptures surround you every where, and you officially have entered another world. The art and passion for faith put into every detail in every inch of the walls caught your eyes immediately, you can’t stop admiring.
Another older gentleman approached me with a big smile on his face and I couldn’t help but stare into his eyes. I was very weirded out by our instant connection but I quickly snapped out of it as his smile had never left his face. I wasn’t sure why he walked up to me but at the end of our conversation I was sure glad he did. He explained to me this was a Hindu Temple, a project created by their leaders in India in hopes of bringing their culture to some of America’s biggest cities for those who are unable to visit their homeland or enjoy the beauties of India. Every inch of the stone walls had been hand-made by Indian artists in India and imported to Houston (Stafford) and every detailed engraved is unique to each other. Only a few other major cities, such as Chicago and Los Angeles had been blessed to have a temple similar to the BAPS Shri Swamirayan Mandir in our city and only one in Toronto, Canada. The temples created an immediate silence in your soul where all you can do is find your inner peace and observe the magic in the temple as it does it for others around you.
I admitted, during my yoga practices (something I like to do when I am aware I am separating my soul from body and want to reconnect) I grew a strong interest in the Hindu religion. He began to explain, the Hindu religion is one of the world’s oldest religion (older than Christianity) and is very similar to Buddhism. What’s so special about Hinduism and it’s practices is, one, when the world was behind in answers about science and how the world and universe functions, the Hindu had that figured out a long time before. Their open-mindedness allows for you to practice other religions along with Hinduism, because they believe everything is connected.
He then motioned me to check out their museum located in the property where I learned a lot of the science incorporated into Hinduism.
This has totally been out of my comfort zone, to say the least. I’ve always had a curiosity for other world wide religions and how they came to be. I thought by going into their temple/church/ or building where they practice these astonishing teachings would be more like going to the zoo, something I’m totally against, and more like a disrespect, especially when you have no intentions of converting but the Hindu people are so inviting and open to all religions I was left speechless. To actually be a part of it for a day and get to witness what they live and how they feel while they praise has been an eye-opening experience and I am blessed to have lived an old and growing tradition in my lifetime.
–If you’d like to visit the BAPS Shri Swamirayan Mandir, they are located on 1150 Brand Lane, Stafford, TX, 77477, and can refer to their website.
Merry meet, merry part, merry meet again.