essay:A Service Report on Hinduism report
To prepare for the service report on Hinduism, I have firstly searched on the Internet and then go to a temple near the city I live in. From the two steps, I have learned a lot. The former one paves the way for the latter one and the latter one makes me understand what I have learned on the Internet about the religion more fully.
Firstly, I would like to share the most impressing information that I have learned on the Internet.Hinduism, the third largest religion on the world, is the most popular one in South Asia and especially in India. It regularizes its followers™ behaviors and morality through Samsara, karma and Moksha. Samsara refers to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. According to Hindus, people keep the cycle of life over and over again due to their ignorance, desire and need to grow and learn. And karma refers to people™s actions and consequences. Hindus believe that they should take responsibilities for their actions in the previous lifetimes. Moksha literally means liberation. Hindus believe that all souls, no matter who you are, will eventually find liberation and release (moksha) as long as you sow good seeds in previous lifetimes.
To achieve Moksha, practices are necessary which involve puja, recitations, meditation, holy festivals and pilgrimages. Some even go in for Sannyasa (ascetic practices) to achieve moksha all over their life after leaving away from their social world and material possessions.
Though all the above is simply the tip of the iceberg of the information about the Hinduism, it is the most impressing part for me. For me, the above information is the core point that leads me to understand the complicated religion gradually
After learning something from the Internet, I planned to go to the nearest Hinduism temple to help me understand what I have learned fully.
When I arrived the outdoor of the temple, my eyes were caught by the fascinating outlook of the building. The architecture of the temple follows the traditional style. The whole structure has its own terrace which means transition from the secular life toward the sacred. The temple has a carved entrance without doors and lacks a series of boundary walls, which is totally different from other religion temples that use boundary walls and gateways to separate the secular life and the sacred. However, the temple is equipped with structural walls that are patterned many geometric layouts, except for the core space which has only one layout. And the temple has a series of courts. I was told by a follower that different parts of the temple have different symbolic meanings. The outermost space symbolically means keeping away from negative and suffering side of life, like evils. And the inner space symbolically incorporates the positive and joyful aspects of life. The central shrine represents the priest heart of the worshippers. And the top of the building—tower, represents the power to go to the heaven in worshippers™ spirit.
Outside the door, I saw many worshippers wearing the sacred thread—a cotton used for worship and carrying their offerings. I also saw that the worshippers took off their shoes and keep their both hands folded before they entering the temple. When encountering the statues, the worshippers greeted them with the Namaste and walked around the statues clockwise with their right side facing the statues.
Before entering the temple, I just did as the Romans did: taking off my shoes and keeping both of my hands folded. When stepping into the temple, I was shocked by the inner decoration. In the inner sanctuary, there were statues, images, and offerings of flowers, food, water, milk, ghee (butter), incense and so on. It™s said that the inner sanctuary symbolizes the birthplace of the universe, the reunion place of the gods and mankind, and the entrance to the sacred world from the secular.
After a while, I saw a series of steps for temple puja.
1) A priest revealed the statues behind curtains, which makes worshippers feel they were blessed by the power of the god or the goddess.
2) The statues™ feet were symbolically washed.
3) Water was offered to symbolically wash the statues™ face and teeth, and also offered for bathing and drinking.
4) The statues were covered by a cloth with beautiful ornaments.
5) The statues were decorated with flowers, garlands, perfumes and so on.
6) Incense is burned before the statues, which is similar to Buddhism practice.
7) Worshippers burned a lamp before the statues, which means they accept the power given by the deities.
8) Different kinds of foods were offered, like rice, fruit, butter, sugar, and so on.
After these steps were finished, the temple management staff announced the consuming time.
Seeing these, I was shocked. I immediately fully understood the role of the god in the heart of the worshippers. For them, the god is full of power. It isn™t a statue, but a powerful being of real existence.
Afterwards, the offerings were distributed to the worshipers as a tangible form of holy grace. Later on, I was told that it was an event called temple puja. Puja comes from Sanskrit, and means reverence, honour, homage, adoration, and worship. Sometimes, it may honour or celebrate the presence of special guests or their memories of their previous life. In Hinduism, puja can take place anywhere. It may be done in the home every day, in the temple occasionally, and for annual festivals and a few events like birth of a baby or wedding. Puja is not mandatory; it may be done by some Hindus daily and others occasionally when celebrations of events and festivals take place.
After visiting the temple puja, I was invited by a worshipper to his home. I was told that there are three kinds of Hindu religious rites that require followers to do puja:
Nitya rituals take place every day, and offerings are also made for the deities.
Naimittika rituals only take place at the celebrations of important festivals, like thanksgiving and so on.
Kamya, which is characterized by pilgrimages (pilgrimages often take place along rivers, but temples, mountains, and other sacred sites are also optional for pilgrimages), is optional.
When arriving at the worshipper™s home, I was told that a room is dedicated to being used as a shrine. After a while, the whole family got together to make offerings and do home puja in the shrine. When they did puja, I noticed that they repeated the names of their favorite deities.
When I planned to leave, I also learned two interesting stories. One is about Kumbh Mela and the other is about Varanasi.
Kumbh Mela, held once every 12 years, is a festival that Hindus get together for ritual bathing, hoping to wash away their sins. After the bathing, a ceremony that celebrates the blessings of the god takes place.
Varanasi is one of the most important pilgrimage centres. Legend has it that a Hindu who dies at Varanasi and has his ashes thrown onto the Ganges (a holy river) would reach the heaven after his death.
After experiencing the Hinduism services by myself, I was deeply shocked by the rich culture of the religion. Some practices are similar to Buddhism practices, however, most of them are totally new to me. From this experiencing of Hinduism, I only learned a corner of the mountain. Therefore, if I travel to India in the coming years, I think I should to do more studies about its culture so that I can avoid misunderstanding. After the personal experience, I think the words like strange and uncomfortable are not suitable to be used to express my feelings because these words do not express my feelings of excitement, admiration and interest. Actually, the attitude I should take is respect, because Hinduism is a unique culture and it has its own value to exist in the world. What I should do is to respect its reasonable existence. This attitude will provide me with a chance to deepen my understanding of the values of Hinduism cultures. Similarly, I also need people from a different religion to respect the religion I am believed in. By mutual respect, different religions will be able to develop better together.
With the cultural diversity, the world will be more peaceful, interesting and colorful. Just think how monotonous a meal would be if the world doesn™t exist all kinds of food, like Turkish, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, German, French or Indian food! Furthermore, cultural diversity is a necessary force to realize a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.
In a word, respect is the right attitude that I should take toward the Hinduism.