Visiting the Swaminarayan Mandir

As part of their Hindu Dharma Module Year 1 Undergraduates visited the Swaminarayan Mandir in Preston.  Here is what Hailey thought of the day:

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Out of all the places of worship we have visited over the past 2 weeks I was probably the most excited to go and visit this one. For the past 8/9 weeks we have been studying someone and now it was time to see it practised in real life. Taking our shoes off I was so thankful for the under floor heating. When we met out guide I was surprised at how young she was but yet how much she knew and had to tell us. We spent around half an hour all sat together in the main hall while our guide told us all of the main beliefs of her faith and also told us a personal story of how a couple of weeks ago she burnt all of her neck and face. What was impeccable about this story was that she just put it down to karma, she never once doubted her faith instead she accepted it as something she had to deal with in order to achieve liberation. She must have a strong belief system in order to never say a bad word about the God that let this happen. When it came down to asking questions about Hinduism our guide never tried to avoid any questions and was completely open with her responses even down to telling us about honour killings, something I thought that she might feel uncomfortable talking about with us.

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Moving onto the prayer room we were asked to stay silent within the room. As we all sat down on the floor our guide stood at the door explaining what this room is used for. This room is used for meditation, for reflection and also to asking the gods questions. We were told that only the soul really enters this room. When talking about the soul she told us that this is the main part of the body, when a person dies their body is let behind and that is why they cremate bodies. She used the analogy of a car, you can have the most beautiful car, but if it hasn’t got a full working engine that is clean and is perfect that the car is now use. I thought that this analogy would be useful to use when it comes to teaching a class about the soul in Hinduism.

Moving into the room where they keep all the statues of the gods and the guru’s I was in complete awe. Before entering the room we were given a bracelet that we placed on our right hands, this symbolises the relationship with God and then also we were given a bindi, we were told that they have these in the middle of the head to protect their third eye but it is also the main symbol of Hinduism. When in this room the priest came in and he gave us all a blessing asking that we became good teachers that told nothing but the truth. The priest actually stays at the Mandir 24/7. All of the statues were so grand and were all painted in such might and beautiful colours with lots of gold. You could really tell that this is big deal to them. Just after we left the priest was going to offer food to the Gods and is something that he does 3 times a day.

Today was everything that I thought it was going to be and I cannot wait to visit another Mandir again soon.

You can read more of Hailey’s blogposts here