RE PGCE Student Claire Bartlett writes:
On 25.9.14 we had the pleasure to visit two key places of worship in Bradford, the Shree Lakshmi Mandir and Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara.
From this trip we hoped to improve our understanding of these two religions; from an insider point of view and appreciate the methods of worship and practice within these traditions. This was a great opportunity for everyone to deepen their subject knowledge, in preparation for our new roles in school.
We arrived at the temple eager to experience Hindu worship first hand, we were politely asked to partake in the cleansing rituals that everyone (even the Queen!) would complete before entering a Hindu temple. After completing the absolution process; of removing our shoes and washing our hands, we were taken into the main room of worship. The main temple really was a beautiful sight, a long row of colourful deities surround by a pristine white structure in the style of a mandir.
Our host Seema explained her work in the community, highlighting the importance of how to educate young learners about Hinduism without causing confusion. After explanations of the various beautiful deities within the temple, we had the option to ask our own questions and experience the temple further. It was the first day of the festival of Diwali during our visit. This meant we got to experience families coming to place offering to the deities to mark the beginning of the festival.
Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara
The next stop of the day was the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, here we were greeted by Narrinder with refreshments and enjoyed these whilst learning about the langar room and the importance of this room in a Gurdwara. This is a key Sikh practice and anyone visiting a Gurdwara would be greeted by free food or drink upon entering the temple, the refreshments offered are donated by the community. This is because of the Sikh belief in helping everyone (Sewa).
After our introductions and extra biscuits we were led upstairs to the main room of worship. Here, we sat and observed Narrinder recite the hymns around opening the sacred text and learnt about the process of laying the text to rest at dawn and waking the text from its bedroom, at the far corner of the room. After asking questions about how they would carry out different types of ceremonies such as weddings and funerals we moved into a separate room and talk about Sikhism away from the Gurdwara.
Narrinder gave us a talk through the 5 K’s of Sikhism, allowing for you to experience these objects first hand whilst learning about the spiritual meaning from an insider view. At the end of our visit Narrinder was kind enough to play the sitar for us ending our Sikh experience nicely with an opportunity to appreciate the music of the Sikh faith which is so central to their worship.
After our lunch in a room of the Interfaith Centre in Bradford, we popped into Bombay Stores, UK’s largest Asian department store. Here we got to explore both ladies and gentlemen’s traditional dress, staring longingly at the large selection of jewelry and pick up some little bits and pieces that we could incorporate into our teaching. This was a great end to an enjoyable trip.