Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blessed Life: Hindu Edition

For twenty-nine years, I have been a run-of-the-mill, Midwestern protestant, and I will likely remain as some form or another of that for the rest of my life. For twenty-seven of those years, I really never had cause or opportunity to explore other religions. Here, where the government officially recognizes five religions: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, and Hindu, all* religions are observed and appreciated. There are outbursts of intolerance - church burnings, riots, and revenge deaths blamed on religious difference - but mostly people are comfortable knowing you hold some belief in God (or several of them as the case may be). People are actively curious about the practices of other religions, especially when those practices happen in beautiful, tourist settings - say, for instance, on the island of Bali. So, just for example, if one were to have a business trip to the island to interview Tourist police, and one happened, by chance, to have some extra time on his or her hands, it's perfectly acceptable to educate oneself on the practices of the local culture.

A work/religious exploration trip to Bali might look like this:

Step 1: Travel to a famous Hindu temple. Tanah Lot - one of seven sea Hindu temples forming a chain along Bali's southwest coast - would do nicely. 

Step 2: Pay the required entry fee. Navigate through the gauntlet of tourist traps lined up strategically between the parking lot and temple. The trick is not to make eye-contact.

Step 3: Pose for photos with other tourists in front of temple.**

Step 4: Go past the cave with the poisonous snakes who guard the temple. Donations accepted.

Step 5: Pose for photos with other tourists in front of temple.**

Step 6: Wash hands, feet, and face with the holy water coming out of a bamboo pole from the center of the rock.

Step 7: Be sprinkled with holy water by temple man number one.

Step 8: Allow man number two to press rice to your forehead.

Step 9: Allow man number two to put a flower behind your ear.

Step 10: Pose for photos with other tourists in front of temple.**

With coworkers: Freshly blessed.

 Step 11 (optional): Stop at one of the tourist restaurants for a refreshing coconut.
* All in this case only refers to one of those 5 religions.
** May only affect those tourists wearing white skin. Can be avoided by wearing a permanent scowl in addition to white skin, but this is discouraged and may void the blessing.

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