Lotus Temple

The Bahá’í House of Worship in Delhi is called the Lotus Temple… for reasons that are quite clear:

It sits in the center of a massive garden in Delhi.  To get to it, you walk down a long brick path (perfect for a quick photo-opt!)

Groups of young men (boys school?  young military units?) were also visiting.  Though we weren’t the only light-skinned tourists, we were the only ones with small children — so, like everywhere else, we drew friendly attention and interest.  Even a salute!

No shoes are allowed!

The temple is surrounded by reflecting pools.

According to Wikipedia:

As with all other Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction, as emphasized in Bahá’í texts.  The Bahá’í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship be that it is a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions.  The Bahá’í laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahá’í Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers can be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments can be played inside. Furthermore no sermons can be delivered, and there can be no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.

No photography is allowed inside the temple, as this man in the center was explaining to the crowd about to enter.  Also, complete silence is mandatory.

Okay — so I’ll level here: Though I consider myself a spiritual person, I don’t believe in God and am not one to worship.  I was expecting to enjoy the architecture of this building and have a few moments of shared peace with the people inside.

I was completely unprepared for how incredibly moving it was inside.  There isn’t anything specific I can put my finger on to describe why, or how, or what — but being in that space?  It moved me to tears.  Whether it was the overwhelming peace of silence, the hundreds of others respecting the prayers of others, or simply the beauty of the building itself, I can’t say.  Even Paul found himself blinking back unexpected emotion.

Afterwards, the kids were asked for more photographs.

(Actually, on this occasion, I was asked for photographs, too.  By different men who posed with me.  Go figure?)

Wikipedia has more about the Bahá’í Faith here, should you want to learn more about it.  This particular religion emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind — and yet its followers are persecuted in modern day.  It is worth a few minutes of investigation; and if one has the opportunity to visit a Bahá’í Temple, I certainly encourage it!