A party of thirty IWP members & associates gathered outside the Hindu temple on a bright morning in December, eagerly awaiting their visit to the premises which would be followed by a delicious vegetarian meal. Organized by the Events Team of Katherine, Amy & Nijka, we enjoyed a fascinating tour.
After removing our footwear we entered the temple with our guide, Sana, ably assisted by Nijka, where we sat on floor cushions or chairs, according to individual preference. Immediately we were attracted to the brightly-colored clothing & decoration of the statues, which represent different gods in the Hindu religion. Before explaining their significance, Sana told us that the Hindu community in Lisbon had evolved from the decolonization of Mozambique & dates from 1975. In addition to the upper temple, there’s an auditorium, canteen & offices. Furthermore, education is provided for students from 9o
Hinduism, one of the most ancient religions of the world, involves the worship of different gods. However, whereas Lord Brahma is worshipped in only one single temple in India, Vishnu (the Preserver) & Shiva (the Destroyer) are worshipped everywhere. Together these gods make up the holy trinity.
Besides explaining the significance of each deity, Sana regaled us with stories of the different gods. Nijka informed us that Hindu children are brought up listening to such stories, like those of Lord Krishna, instead of traditional western stories, such as those written by Hans Christian Andersen.
Throughout our visit, the priest was in attendance & he kindly led a brief interlude of meditation, after which the bell at the entrance was rung to demonstrate its sound. Encouraged to view the temple statues & decoration more closely, we were instructed to proceed in a clockwise direction.
Emerging from the colorful decoration of the temple, some participants admired the grounds in the gorgeous winter sunshine while others lingered within the temple, asking further questions & chatting to the priest.
Finally, we descended to the canteen for our eagerly-awaited lunch which surpassed expectations. Everyone to whom I spoke agreed the flavors were delicious, exactly suited to our palate. We helped ourselves from the buffet while additional bread, etc. was brought to each table. The relaxing lunch rounded off a most enjoyable & highly informative tour. For anyone visiting Alameda Mahatma Gandhi, the canteen is open to the public, serving lunch & dinner. Replete, we expressed our thanks to Sana & the Events Team for offering such an exquisite experience. For more information about IWP, visit the website: www.iwpportugal.org.
Text: Caroline Will Photos: Maggie Martinho