As student athletes, we are all too familiar with the world humble. We have coaches reminding us to stay humble when our successes are high, we feel humbled when we compete with and against the most talented athletes, we accept with humility the praises we receive from our athletic and academic accomplishment. I can state many more scenarios that encompass humility, but in sum, student athletes have a pretty good idea of the concept. However, when I came to India, I was humbled on a scale that I had never experienced or felt before.
This humility I experienced in magnitude resulted when I went on a city tour around Delhi visiting three religious places of worship: a Muslim mosque, a Hindu temple, and a Sikh temple. First, I was amazed how each religion respects and honors the others. It almost seems as if there is only one. Visiting these various temples, witnessing the people perform rituals, and experiencing the hospitality demonstrated at each one enhanced my feeling of humility not only to that specific religion, but also to the people as individuals. For example, when we went to the mosque, just stepping foot inside was extremely humbling because it is Asia’s oldest and biggest. When we entered, we immediately and starkly stood out against the locals, however we didn’t get strange or annoyed looks. People there wanted to talk to us or at least take a picture with us. This showed me that despite us being foreigners inside their sacred place of worship, they did not mind. Not once did I feel unwelcomed or uncomfortable. Also, to see crowds of people with their heads pressed to the ground facing Mecca or washing their hands and faces in the mosque’s large square fountain was witnessing tradition that was established thousands of years prior that the people had continued to carry on. It was an impressive and humbling moment to see.
“To see crowds of people with their heads pressed to the ground facing Mecca or washing their hands and faces in the mosque’s large square fountain was witnessing tradition that was established thousands of years prior that the people had continued to carry on. It was an impressive and humbling moment to see.”
The Hindu temple was equally impressive and humbling. Again, we were welcomed with no hostility or strange looks. We toured the temple, watching people pay their respects and make offerings to the shrines of many gods. The beginnings of this particular religion go far before biblical chronology, which make the history so rich and complex and demonstrates the firm roots that Hindus still hold on to. The Hindu temple also had a section called the Dharamshala. Despite this temple being specifically Hindu, this Dharamshala offers a place for other religions or to anybody who needed a place to worship their religion safely or needed shelter or food. It was humbling to be reminded of what kind of world we live in—not a world of destruction and hate that is so often promoted in these modern days, but a world that respects and cares for all walks of people no matter the difference in nationality, economic status, nor religion. This is the faith that the people here believe in and live by.
Finally at the Sikh temple, I also witnessed a similar form of unity as I saw at the previous two temples. First off, everyone who works or contributes at the Sikh temple is purely based on volunteerism. No one is paid nor forced to work, yet so many people were giving up their time. The Sikh temple offered meals to the people and there was an enormous kitchen where people were cooking. We entered the kitchen and there were tables of people squatting around rolling out balls of dough to put on a massive heat pan that cooked the dough into flat breads. Old ladies sat there flipping the breads in the sweltering heat emitted by the pan with smiles on their faces. On the other end, huge cauldrons of stew were being cooked and stirred by men with the same cordial smiles. They invited us to help stir, which we gladly accepted.
Also, without saying a word, we sat down next to the people rolling out the dough and they happily tossed us a pin roller and showed us how to correctly roll the dough out. When we left, they nodded their heads down as to acknowledge our small contribution. I was completely blown away by their hospitality, especially because there was no mistaking that we were foreigners not a part of their religion. That did not matter the slightest though. In this case, I was humbled by the people who acted and lived in such a way that promoted human righteousness, for they were all cooking for people in need of meals. I was surprised to have witnessed this in a place where I felt our differences to be the most apparent in all ways: physically, culturally, religiously, nationally, etc.
Visiting these religious temples, witnessing the rituals performed there and the sense of care and hospitality demonstrated, and seeing the different types of people from all economic backgrounds congregate to these holy places overwhelmed me with humility. It showed how much influence faith has on communities, especially these being the world’s oldest communities. It also shows how faithful people have been over time and continue to show compassion from all walks of life and through multiple religions. My life as well as every other person outside India is drastically different but it does not make my life more appealing or better than any other life. The world is a unique, complex, and diverse place where all have the capability to appreciate, love and live. To see this carried out with my own eyes in this chaotic and historic place called India humbled me beyond measure.