We started the day around 8:30 am and we all played in a very cute playground while we waited for Rahi, the center for sexual abuse/incest survivors, to open. In the center we were able to hear some statistics regarding sexual abuse and how much change has been made so far. We learned that the laws in India can be a bit challenging but the efforts of Rahi to advocate for the survivors of sexual abuse is indeed precious.
We visited an old age home in the mid afternoon and we we were really surprised to find out that just 4 days ago the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi was there with his wife. We had a pleasant conversation with him about his old days in the USA. He is definitely a very nice and wise man and we were very grateful for the opportunity to meet him and his lovely wife who happened to be a professor for many years in a University in Boston, Massachusetts.
We visited a Sikh Temple in the late afternoon, and we were able to participate in behaviors like those who practice the Sikh religion do, covering our head with scarves and washing our bare feet before entering the temple. The temple is amazing and beautiful, made of marble and gold. We walked around exploring the vicinity of the temple and learned how healing the waters from the river are.
We walked inside and outside of the Sikh temple and we were able to contemplate the beauty of the architecture from 500 hundred years ago. As a tradition of the religion women and man must covered their head and man must let their hair grow without cutting it. This is one of the reasons why the men use a turban around their head.
Some of us were able to drink some of the healing water and it was quite an experience for those who chose to participate. Inside the temple we learned we must walk clockwise around, as some people are on their knees praying in the floor around the holy book. There is a man that is constantly waving a bouquet of feathers around the holy book. I learned that he waves this bouquet in gentle strokes as a sign of faith and respect.
Next to the Sikh temple we entered the second biggest kitchen in the world. We learned that they serve naan bread and other food items to some of the 50,000 daily visitors in one of the rooms. Some of us were able to experience how the bread is made and we sat down on the floor and rolled the dough with little pin woods on the huge marble bed, filled with flour and dough. It was a very good experience overall! After we left the temple some of us purchased some Sikh souvenirs and headed to the hotel. At the hotel we had circle time and everyone was able to share their experiences for the day. We had dinner around 8:30 pm and everyone headed out to their rooms to rest for the next morning.
Reflections by Leah Abramoff:
It’s now the second day and so much has happened it feels like it should have been 2.5 weeks already. But lucky us, we still have so much more to experience. From meeting the workers at Rahi ;to Gandhi’s grandson, Kanubhai Ramdas Gandhi; to engaging in providing a service and observing religious ceremonies at a Sikh temple; everything on this day has had a huge impact. Rahi alone would have made the day worth engaging by learning of their perspective and how they strive to help survivors of sexual assault/incest and campaign for awareness within their society. Like the last reflection on social service, their packaging may look the same, but their flavor is a different one. There are some concepts that if you go in with a closed mind and the idea that the American way is the only way it would be an unexpected adjustment in how they approach their clients whom they serve. However, noting their cultural challenges and strengths with an open mind, their approach at Rahi is revolutionary and was perceived to be having a profound impact on survivors. Next, meeting Kunbhai Ramda Gandhi Gi was a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us. Knowing of Gandhi’s impact on not just India, but even within the USA, being able to meet the descendant of someone who inspired so much political and social guidepost would be awe-inspiring alone. But again, as a social worker, meeting someone who was also a driving force for and served the National Association of Social Workers within the USA lent this moment to be indescribably. Literally, there are no words to describe this moment. By this time no one expected the day could possibly be topped but off we were to the Sikh temple. I can’t say that anything within the day “topped” another, as each event demanded it’s own amount of respect, including our visit to the Sikh temple. Being able to see the respect and empowerment of the people through the ceremonies and the healing waters outside was a very calming and mindful way to end our day. And so we did.