Since arriving back to the US about a week ago, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my experience in India and the cultural insight that I gained while I was there.
Every day of the trip was a learning opportunity, whether I was in school teaching the children or sight-seeing on the weekend.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was the day that we were given a lesson about India’s history and diversity. I learned that India is one of the most diverse countries in the world; each region having its own unique culture. India has 22 official languages, 111 forms of dance, many different styles of cuisine and various types of traditional clothing. In addition, India is the birthplace of several major religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. I found it heartening that given the vast range of beliefs and traditions, there is relatively little conflict among the Indian people regarding these differences.
As part of our history lesson, we visited an array of temples and mosques and learned a bit about a couple of the more prominent Indian religions. Many of the temples and mosques allowed and even encouraged people of other religions to come and pray silently. One of the temples had a big kitchen to feed anyone who came, regardless of religion. I found a sense of peace in this coexistence.
In an effort to hold onto the peace I experienced while visiting these holy places, I recently started to attend Kundalini yoga classes. Kundalini seeks to establish a clear connection with the divine consciousness or teacher that resides within all of us. I am not sure I would have been open to such a practice prior to my trip but I have been enjoying the ongoing learning process.