Today, on the platter is temples. Because that is where we started. Here are a few “wow” temples that will make you wonder. Their history, weird customs and offerings.
Dharmasthala: As the name itself suggests here is one pilgrimage centre which serves the devotees sumptuous food and all days of the year and without any expectation of return. It is the sheer size and the number of meals served and the meticulous care with which the devotees are served hygienic meals that leave you wondering how it is done. This is not all, it is run by a family of Jains serving as Trustees of a Hindu God -Shiva besides other Daivas and this is not all the priests are Madhvas, the guardian spirits. For those who understand it , great but for those who did not understand the significance. It’s just that it is a really very big deal and rare understanding. You would be amazed by the number of pilgrims who visit day after day after day.
Tirupati: It is not only the abode of the Lord of Seven Hills, Lord Venkateshwara/Balaji but the legend is that this in this abode of Lord Srinivasa he is a debtor and is yet to repay all the money borrowed from Kubera, the lord of wealth for his marriage. So after all the money you had put the lord is still in debt. Weird , isn’t it?
Muse on the fact that the famous Tirupati Laddu, the delicious sweetmeat with unique aroma and taste has a GI (Geographical Index) ! Perhaps the only prasadam bestowed with GI. Tirupati is one of the most visited holy places in the world. It is estimated that nearly 75000 people every day . It is also one of the richest temples.
You will be left wondering when I tell you that tonsure is considered the highest form of offering for the Lord and believe it when I tell you that women willingly tonsure and offer the hair as thanksgiving. The quantity of hair collected daily -more than a ton!! The money generated by auctioning the hair brings revenue which is only next to the collection in the Hundi, the offering made to the Lord.
Golden Temple, Amritsar:
This one temple has given me so much peace that many other couldn’t offer. I don’t know if someone filled in some gas there that brings peace of mind but being a non-sikh I visited the place to admire the architecture but the temple gave me a lot and I got to see more than its architectural elegance. Three million people visit every month. This place is for people from all walks of life the architecture symbolises that. The foundation was laid down by a Muslim sage. Thirty-five percent of people who visit are non-sikhs. It’s called the Akal Takhat it means the throne of the timeless gods, the highest seat of Sikh authority. The holy place has witnessed many catastrophic events but still stands tall and welcomes the devotees. This is one of the must visit places, it’s simply beautiful and people are benevolent.