hidden jewel

i grew up in bridgewater. the small neighborhoods were surrounded by farms and woods which we would ‘cut through’ to get to friend’s houses after school.  some neighborhoods were a little nicer than others, but for the most part that was the only noticeable difference one would find in the town –  a quiet,  predominately white, christian, safe, place to raise a family – which is precisely why my biggest goal in life for as far back as i can remember, was to live in the city.  bridgewater was a wonderful place to raise a family and i am truly thankful to my parents for their insightful choice to raise us there.  it was a great place to foster real connections with friends as well as a love for nature, but i was always an excitement junkie and the excitement was in the city.

with every trip back to bridgewater in the years i was away at college and after, bridgewater grew.  new neighborhoods emerged on the land where the farms once stood, traffic lights appeared at intersections where kids once played wiffle ball, a mall was built and office buildings replaced the fields where we hung out.  i used to say i grew up in the country but now it’s just a place like many others in america – filled with condos, chain stores & traffic.  with all the urbanization, there is still nothing to do. the only difference is, as kids we would do nothing sitting alongside a beautiful brook in the middle of the woods and now, most of those woods are gone.  the wildlife that once inhabited the woods are wandering around town in search of food and it’s not unusual to see many deer, raccoons, gofers, squirrels, an occasional fox or even coyote lying dead on the side of the road.

with all of the building of new homes and businesses, the lack of cultural diversity is still pretty astounding.   yesterday, on the way home from my parents house, i noticed a temple which i must have driven by many times but never really noticed.  i had my camera with me so decided to pull in and check out the photo opportunity.  the temple was closed & the parking lot was empty.  the building is so beautifully unique – amazing – right here in bridgewater – i could hardly believe my eyes.

as i got out of the car, a car came around from the back of the building and slowed down when the driver saw me.  i figured he was in some way connected to the temple and i should ask him about taking pictures. he stopped & lowered the window when i approached the car.  i asked if he worked at the temple & he told me he did. i explained that i was intrigued by the beautiful building and asked if it would be ok to take some photographs.  he said i could.  i had so many questions about this temple and how a place like this could emerge in a place like bridgewater and this guy was happy to fill me in.  he got out of his car and introduced himself as jimmy.  jimmy is in the construction business and has been with the temple since the initial ground breaking. 12 years later, they are still building!  this is jimmy:

the temple was designed by indian temple architects (sthapati)
according to ancient indian temple building codes and was inaugurated (kumbabhishekam) in 1998.  jimmy told me that the temple was closed but would re-open at 4:00 and said that i should come back to check it out because the inside is even more spectacular than the outside.  unfortunately, photographs are forbidden inside hindu temples but he walked with me around the grounds as i captured shots of the beautiful building.  jimmy proceeded to tell me about the long construction process of the temple, where the materials were from and about the work crews hired from foreign lands to complete the sculptures. here are some of the pix: i could hardly believe i was in bridgewater.  jimmy and i hit it off pretty quickly and he continued to tell me all sorts of things not only about the temple, but about the hindu religion and the ceremonies practiced there. it was all pretty fascinating.  he then asked if i would like to see the inside and proceeded to give me a guided tour! we didn’t go upstairs into the main rooms of worship, but they could all be seen through the windows. there were large rooms filled with colorful and ornate statues and magically decorated gold structures that house the hindu gods, a giant sized cobra and a calf, alters everywhere – it was like nothing i had ever seen.  downstairs jimmy showed me the room where wedding ceremonies are performed and gave me insight into the nature of hindu weddings.  there was also a gift shop! the door was locked but through the window i could see all sorts of stuff i definitely need! authentic himalayan incense, statues and all sorts of interesting things. today i am going back to buy a ganesh!

*

“So our daily worship of God is not really the process of gradual acquisition of him, but the daily process of surrendering ourselves, removing all obstacles to union and extending our consciousness of him in devotion and service, in goodness and in l”

Rabindranath Tagore

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