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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inside Temples in Asia


Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

I was born and raised a Roman Catholic. Living and studying in UP (university) opened up my eyes and heart to other religions, more so because my two bestfriends are Muslims. But my travels, more than anything, has introduced me to other religions and has strengthened my belief that faith is one of the most valuable things one has in his/her life. We just have different ways of practicing it. 

It is through my travels, and to an extent ‘tourism’, that have welcomed me inside various temples and mosques. Witnessing people’s devotions to their faith and how a physical structure calms and comforts them has always made me feel lighter. Lighter in the sense that wherever I am, I can always find a place where I can talk to Him. We can always talk to Him whenever and wherever, I know. But sacred structures has always felt safer and welcoming for me. 


Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

I have been inside mosques in Kota Kinabalu, Buddhist temples in Dharamsala, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Sikh’s Golden Temple in Amritsar, but never inside a Burmese Buddhist temple. 

City Mosque 2
City Mosque, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Sabah State Mosque 2
Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Hue 14
Monastery in Hue, Vietnam

Dharamsala 02
Tibetan Buddhist Temple, Dharamsala, India


Dharamsala
Tibetan Buddhist Temple, Dharamsala, India

It was my last day in Penang, Malaysia. We just spent almost the whole afternoon walking around Georgetown. I had a heavy heart what with all the memories I couldn’t seem to just remember in a good way, back then at least. Taking photos temporarily took my mind off of it, but there was still that pain, hopelessness, and loss I was carrying. Until our friends brought us to two temples outside Georgetown.

First was the Wat Chaiyamangalaram Thai Buddhist temple, and just across the road is the 200-year old Dhammikarama Burmese Temple. It was my first time to be inside a Burmese temple.

Wat Chaiyamangalaram
Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Penang, Malaysia

Dhammikarama Burmese Temple 04
Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Penang, Malaysia

And just like what I felt inside the City Mosque in Kota Kinabalu and the Tibetan Temple in Dharamasala, I felt like a big and heavy weight was lifted off of me. It was so overwhelming that I found myself tearing up. The structure is quite different from the other Buddhist temples I’ve seen. This one was narrower in width, but the ceiling was high. The structure near the ceiling were made of wood and with intricate details. The Buddha was standing tall at the middle, with its right palm drawn with a golden sun. At its foot were colorful flowers, and around it were intricate golden carvings.

Dhammikarama Burmese Temple
Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, Penang, Malaysia

Dhammikarama Burmese Temple 03
intricate wooden carvings

Dhammikarama Burmese Temple 02
golden sun on its right palm

Probably because there were less people inside it compared to the Thai temple, I felt more at ease. As with any grand and sacred structures I’ve been to, I sat down on my knees allowing the peace and calmness take over me. It was the first time in months that I felt so at peace and so comforted. That I felt not so lost anymore, that I was assured that everything will be okay. 

Fast forward and almost three weeks after, I can honestly say that everything feels lighter. Everything seems more real. And those few minutes inside the Burmese temple has led me to go (hopefully) on another adventure. 

And yet again, travel surprised and saved me. :)