Hindu Temple of Southwest Florida

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For this field experience I decided to vist a Hindu temple called the Hindu Temple of Southwest Florida. I visited the temple on Tuesday October 23, 2018 from 9 in the morning to 12 in the afternoon. While visiting I was greeted by the priest Panditji Jinit Rajendrakumar Bhatt and was asked if I was visiting for a school assignment because it is the temple that most people visit for this assignment.

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When entering the temple I was told to remove my shoes so I did. The first thing I noticed when visitng the temple was that before entering the main temple there was 9 stone figures that later on the priest explained to me where moons. He stated that those 9 figures signified 9 moons that somewhat represented zodiac signs that people went and prayed to when going through rough times. The floor tile is black and white and is set up sort of like a checker borad. In the temple they have a table setup with fruits. There is also a variety of colors in the building and the priest was also wearing colors that are not quite common to use like maroon, yellow and white.

After taking pictures we walked outside to a porch and the priest handed me a calendar that included what certain months meant to them and the celebrations that took place within those months. The name of the days like Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday are not the same as the days on our calendar. They name their days by the different types of moons. One practice that I noticed that was talked about in the text book is the offering of things like food, flowers and incense. In the text it states Puja devotional rituals commonly performed at an alter, involves the offering of flowers, food, fire, and incense to images of a god or gods, as well as the occasional singing of hymns (94). In the temple there was incense and there was a table set up with fruits also. The textbook also states that Hinduism is distinctive among world religions for its kindness to animals. A devout Hindu does not kill or eat animals(102). The priest explained that animals just like humans have feelings and explained to us their belief that we become what we eat. What he mentioned came into play when he said that they are vegetarian because eating meat goes against their beliefs and also goes against what they teach. The priest talked to me about the law of karma which I remember reading about, he stated that there was good karma and bad karma. I was given a very simple example that helped me understand this, he said that both doctors and criminals killed and that they both used knives but it all depended on the purpose of their action which led them to either good karma or bad karma.

Hindus do not belive in converting into another religion because they feel that by doing this you it would not be religious. They have really different perspectives about certain things. Even though I don’t agree with their rules and thoughts I do find them quite interesting. I wasn’t surprised with what the priest told me about the animals and how they were also kind of like humans to them because I had already read that in the textbook. What did surprise me was that there was a variety of colors around the building and I expected it to look different. The priest talked to me about being able to tell what kind of person I was and what my life looked like in the past and what it would look like in the future, he did this by asking what my name was, at what time I was born and where.

By looking at the figures he said resembled the 9 moons he gave me this information. This topic really caught me off guard and surprised me because I didnt expect the priest to be able to figure things like that out. I would tell someone who is visiting for their first time to definitley be prepared to learn a lot because in the visit that I made I was introduced to new information. I would totally encourage someone to go and visit because it is a learning experience and its definitley worth visiting.There is a very different atmosphere in the temple, one I would describe as peaceful and relaxed. I felt really welcomed as soon as I arrived to the temple and the Priest was very helpful and attentive. This field experience allowed me to go out and try new things and I am pretty sure that if I didn’t have this class I would have never visited this temple.

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