acts 3

  • without question one of my favorite stories in the bible.
  • it’s not hard for me to imagine myself in the position of Peter and John.   if you ever have the pleasure of visiting calcutta, india, you’ll notice that the few western/white tourists in the city generally make their way to the Kali Temple — named after the goddess of death and destruction — at some point in search of some sort of spiritual experience. i can vividly remember visiting the temple in 2004 – the sights, smells, feelings, colors, atmosphere, etc. but it is still difficult to recount the experience and do it justice.  it seems Dominique Lapierre doesn’t have that difficulty, however, judging by how he describes the temple in City of Joy:

Like a flower straining toward the sun, the sugarloaf-dome of the temple of Kali surfaced from the imbroglio of alleyways, residences, hovels, stores and pilgrims’ rest houses.  This high place of militant Hinduism, built near a branch of the Ganges, on the banks of which the dead were burned, was the most frequented shrine in Calcutta.  Day and night crowds of the faithful swarmed inside and around its gray walls.  Rich families, their arms laden with offerings of fruit and food wrapped in gold paper; penitents dressed in white cotton, leading goats to the sacrifice; yogis in saffron robes, their hair tied up and knotted on the crowns of their heads, the sign of their sect painted in vermillion on their foreheads; troubadours singing canticles as plaintive as sighs; musicians, tradesmen, tourists; the motley throng milled about in an atmosphere of festivity.

This is alone one of the most congested places in the overpopulated city.  Hundreds of shops surround the temple with a string of multicolored stalls.  There is something of everything sold here: fruit, flowers, powders, imitation jewels, perfumes, devotional objects, gilded copper utensils, toys, and even fresh fish and caged birds.  Above the antlike activity hovers the bluish mist of the funeral pyres and the smell of incense mingled with the burning of flesh.  Numerous funeral corteges wend their way between the cows, dogs, the children playing in the street, and the flock of faithful worshippers.  At the temple of Kali, the most vibrant life goes hand in hand with death.

  • One thing Lapierre misses is the beggars surrounding the temple.  the temple attracts most of the white/western tourists in the city and that, in turn, attracts beggars.  i just wish i had the courage to tell one of them to stand and walk.
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