Kali Mata Mandir – Pathiala

Quite a different athmosphere from GURDWARA DUKH NIWARAN SAHIB when crossing the city we came upon the “Kali Mata Mandir” the “Black mother temple”.

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This beautiful temple is said to be very popular and we preferred to visit it in daytime, before the crowd.

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Devotees are already coming to offer they prayers and ask for the blessings of the black mother. With a bit of discussion with the priest I was allowed to take a couple of pictures of the Divine Mother Kali and the priests (The statue was brought back from Bengal in the 1900’s)

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The Kali shrine opens towards the outside of the compound; through it you enter a courtyard surrounding the temple below.

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At the back of Kali shrine is another shrine of what I believe being the goddess Jyoti; the Hindu goddess of light and the “Vel”. She is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and is closely associated with her brother Lord Murugan .

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People of the temple are collecting offerings for various causes. I gave some rupees I had left for one of them, although I am not sure what it is for.L1000275

I had none for the next ones which were a bit unhappy about the fact.

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The part if the temple below contains an older Shiva temple that opens once a year only, an old local gentleman told us he visited it only once in his life.L1000285

Finally we found  a group playing music and singing in the temple hall; I cannot tell if they were playing for the gods or rehearsing for later ceremony, but they seemed to be very please of our short attendance.

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You can visit http://maakalidevimandirpatiala.com/ for more information

 

Outside the temple a rickshaw rider waits for customers

All shots Leica M262 with Summicron 50 or 28; Rickshaw rider is Leica M6, Cron 28mm and Kodak TMY400

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Kali Mata Mandir – Pathiala

Gurdwara Ber Sahib

Gurdwara Ber Sahib is situated in the Sultanpur lodhi town of Kapurthala Distt.

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It is situated on the bank of the rivulet Kali Bein, half a kilometre to the west of the old town; Guru Nanak performed his morning ablutions in the Bein and then sat under a Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) tree to meditate.

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Guru Ji meditated at this tree daily for 14 years, nine months and 13 days. While Bathing here one day in Bein River Guru Sahib disappeared and was missing and returned after three days. Upon returning enlightned Guru began his life long mission of preaching Sikhism. (http://www.sikhiwiki.org)

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I was most impressed by the pond, the contrast of its green color and the white stones around under the harsh midday sun. The black fish adding to the scenery, but I am afraid I did not manage to capture it properly.

As in every Gurdwara, we had to visit the langar hall, which was quite empty at that time. But being one of the most sacred place for Sikh it is quite big and can host quite a crowd.

The tea master

The man poured us some massala tea with the device below; which is quite a clever invention to serve the usual crowd.

The device

As an eminent foreign guest after having our tea we were hushed into the kitchen, where a group of volunteers were making chapatis.

A beautiful light was pouring from the windows.

We had to decline the invitation to make chapatis ourselves.

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Back in the Langar hall.

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Around the pool a enclosed bathing areas for women only.

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The living quarters.

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Outside the Gurwara, volunteers shining the shoes you have left before entering the temple.

Gurdwara Ber Sahib

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

The city of Kapurtalha is 70 km or 1 and half hour drive from Amritsar. Is used to be a princely state in British India, and its late Maharajah, Jagatjit Singh built a certain number of monuments in the 1930’s, making the city a “Little Paris”.

The Mosque was build by French architect M. Manteaux, who had also designed the Jagatjit Palace in the city. The intention of the Maharajah was to offer his Muslim subject  the best place of worship in order to preserve balance between the cults.

The mosque’s architectural design is based on the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh ( Morocco ).

The building is beautiful outside and inside;and in very good condition, we were just surprised to it empty. The man in charge was very nice and happy to show us around.

The courtyard is of marble; the interior patterns were originally made by artists from Lahore.

Kapurthala, looks like a very nice city, probably of 200000 inhabitants, with a lot of other buildings of architectural interest. Among them the Jagatjit Palace (Palace of the Maharajah), inspired by Versailles and the Jagatjit  Club. The palace is now a military school and unfortunately cannot be visited without a prior authorization that we did not get. But just looking around in the street around the mosque a lot of smaller buildings are worth a look.

The other place of interest of Kapurthala is the Rail Coach Factory, but also requires an authorization and our trip organizer was ignorant of it so we could not access it, in spite of the efforts of our guide, bit of disappointment on my side.

All shots with Leica M262 and summicron 28 (mostly) or 50.

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

Evening Ceremony at the Golden Temple

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Sri Harmandir Sahib

Every night a ceremony is held in the Golden Temple in Amritsar (also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib), the holiest Sikh temple.

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It is called “sukhasan“, it consists in bringing back the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh, from the Sanctum (golden pavilion) to its resting place (Akal Takht).

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Priest and devotees line the way between the two places and watch the palanquin being brought from the resting place to the pavilion and the Guru Granth Sahib return.

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It starts at 9h45 and last 30 minutes; the place is really packed and it is very difficult to have a clear view of what is going on.

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Communal Kitchen outside the temple

On the way back a blue Hindu temple (“Saturday temple”) can be found, this small place sees many devotees, Sikh and Hindu alike.

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One of the temple priests (Left) and our guide.

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Man selling offerings for Krishna

The area around the Golden Temple is very lively at night, with a lot of food stalls and people walking around.

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(All shots Leica M262 and Summicron 28 or 50)

I will make a summary pape about our travel in Punjab; more information on Sikhism can be found on http://www.sikhiwiki.org/

 

Evening Ceremony at the Golden Temple

Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

For Buddhists Vesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This is my very first time at Bright hill temple ; it is a huge compound in the center of Singapore.

Bright Hill temple also known as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, is famous for the “3 Steps 1 Bow ceremony” on the eve of Vesak Day.

Above are monks who are opening the procession. The ceremony starts at 5pm and takes 2 and half hours to complete ending with the monks back in the main hall blessing the devotees with water.

Monks are followed by lay people who will queue all evening and a big part of the night. One people I know said he will go at 3am.

Below people queuing at the start of the procession

 

The main halls are also the occasion to pray and give offerings; mostly candles.

During the day itself, ritual is generally the bathing of the Buddha.

Most shots done with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mm, close ups with Elmarit 90mmF2.8.

Some film shots (with black border) done with Leica M6 on Fuji Xtra 800ISO with same lenses.

How to get there: Bright Hill is quite central  (like in the middle of the island) but may take some time to reach. You can get a bus there (check gothere.sg) which will take close to one hour from CDB or take a cab (more of less 15 SGD).

Devotees and temple staff are quite photo friendly, so as long as you are decently dressed and don’t go in the middle of ceremony you feel welcome to shoot. There is actually a small crowd of photographers.

Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

“it all started as a riot”

 

I felt very lucky last week when a friend of my wife told us a bout a fire dragon performance organized by a temple in Balestier area in Singapore. In 9 years here I have never seen such a thing and was very thrilled to see one.

The Fu De Gong temple is located in Kim keat lane, very easy to access by bus. I have been told by the friendly member of the temple that this is a taoist temple. I did not see the actual temple as we arrived at night fall and the premises were covered by the tent hosting the celebration.

There was maybe a couple of hundred people attending, on one side of the tent was a stage with a Cantonese opera (or wayang) on the other side a large shrine and in the middle an area for the performances.

When we arrived a very good quality lion dance was in process and we enjoyed for a good half hour until the riot begin. From the end of the road the Dragon was approaching; with music and flames; until it finally enters the tent (but that’s another story)…

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 2 – WAT PHANAN CHOENG – AYUTTHAYA

The first place we wanted to visit was Ayutthaya an ancient capital, which also happen to be   a very busy industrial city, 90 KM north of Bangkok. We decided to sleep close the the airport (at the Novotel, so actually in the airport), and hire a driver and a guide for the day.

Ayutthaya has many interest, but mostly the Royal Palace and many temples. I have not posted any pictures of the Royal Palace, but actually it is not uninteresting. The vast compound is still supposed to be used today by the Royal Family. Constructions are of varying styles, and if your guide is knowledgeable and chatty as ours this makes for a nice visit.

Now more interesting are the temples; as in many big Thai city there are dozens of them; but due to time constraints we only visited 4; each very different.

After the visit of the Royal Palace, we headed to Wat Phanan Choeng. This is a big temple, famous for its (very) large, statue of sitting Buddha. This is a very busy temple specially on week ends; I am not sure if it is permanent but the day we visited the temple devotees were offering new orange robes for the Buddha. A extraordinary occasion to experience the devotion of Thai people.

Next we headed for lunch but nothing worth mentioning.

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 2 – WAT PHANAN CHOENG – AYUTTHAYA