Day Three – Harpreet’s house and Bithoor

This morning we visited a market selling saris, jewellery and wedding clothes. The colours were vibrant and the designs were intricate and ornate.

Next, Harpreet took us for lunch in her favourite restaurant near her house. Most locals eat using bread as a spoon instead of knives and forks , Harpreet taught us how to do this. It was quite difficult to eat with our hands without spilling any food. Today’s food was traditional to southern India and the Punjab in Northern India. The food from the south is lighter as the weather is hot.

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After lunch we went to Harpreet’s home where she lives with her husband, daughter, mother-in-law and father-in-law. Her home is full of love, care and is one which all of the family are proud of.  Harpreet’s family are Sikhs. Sikhs believe that there is only one God without form or gender.  Living a good honest life, caring for one another and belonging to a community is integral to the religion.    Five things that Sikhs try to avoid as they prevent them being liberated are; anger, pride, attachment to things of this world, greed and lust.

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After our visit Harpreet and her family took us to Bithoor where we visited two Hindi temples.  The first temple celebrated Lord Shiva, the Goddess Gauri and Ganesha.  Men and Women had to enter the temple via different entrances.  We had to remove our shoes before entering. The Hindi story says that Ganesha was protecting his mother, and wouldn’t let anybody in their house.  His Dad,  Lord Shiva came to their house and was not allowed to enter as Ganesha had never met him before.  Later, Lord Shiva got an army together and went back to Ganesha’s house and beheaded him. His mother was beside herself with grief.  Lord Shiva, realising his mistake, ordered his servants to cut off and bring to him the head of any creature that was sleeping with its head facing north. After searching, only an elephant was found in that position.  The elephant’s head was brought to the Lord and he attached it to the body of his son Ganesha. Ganesha is worshipped at the start of all new things, for example, starting a new school, going on a journey or moving to a new house. We were lucky enough to see the Priest in the temple and he blessed us both.  The Priest had a yellow mixture and applied it to our foreheads , before this we drank some special milk.

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Next we travelled to a second temple, Saibaba Temple. Harpreet told us it was a special temple where the Priests were younger, around 25 years old.  When we arrived, we heard the loud chant of prayer. We sat and listened for a while and then we went to the shrine at the front; the priest there asked if he could bless us. Again we drank some special milk, ate a special sweet and then the priest applied the yellow mixture to Mr Payne’s forehead. Mrs Phillips had to apply her own as Harpreet said that the priests here would not apply it to ladies. Harpreet told us that, at this temple, every Thursday the priests provide food for the poor people in Bithoor.

On our way home we stopped at a little-shop and had Mehndi patterns drawn on our hands with henna. We then crossed the bustling street and ate some street food called ‘water balls’ and ‘momos’. We were a little worried that we would have stomach upsets after this food but we were ok!

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We finally arrived back at our hotel and went to bed.

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