An Indian Experience (Part 4)

photos by Ted Wilcox

The Khalighat temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Kali, the goddess of destruction, and I’m about to walk in.

According to Pew research, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world from a numbers standpoint. It is hardly the most far reaching, though. Almost 95% of the world’s Hindu population lives in India, and they are rapidly closing in on 1 billion Hindu followers.

The religion itself is extremely complex, with many subcultures within the general “Hinduism” definition, and many different philosophies are practiced. It is my understanding that in general there is a belief in a supreme being manifested in many different gods, one of whom is Kali.

I’m walking into this place on a Saturday, which according to the man who insisted on being our tour guide for the temple (I’m confident it was to make a quick buck off of tips following the tour) was the main day of worship. The place is packed with people, and after stepping into the inner courtyard, chaos consumes me.

The floors are made of white marble but mud and dirt are everywhere. I turn a corner and notice red streaks mixed in, and when my eyes follow to where they lead I see several men skinning a goat whose head they have just chopped off. The man who appears to be in charge of this task is shirtless and without shoes, glistening in sweat and smoking the last bit of a cigarette that dangles from the corner of his mouth. After nailing the carcass to a post he starts peeling the skin away with his hands, while using his bare foot to steady the dead animal.

People are throwing flowers and burning more of the incense on different idols scattered around the courtyard while saying prayers over and over again.

Despite the chaos, and biggest case of culture shock I have ever felt, I respect these Indian’s dedication to their worship. They are longing to connect to a supreme deity just like I yearn for a relationship with God.

I am saddened, though, because they feel the path connecting to a higher being comes from worshipping a goddess of destruction. I think of 1 Timothy 2 and how Paul warns us against this sort of thinking when he says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” If they already believe in an all-powerful deity, how incredible would it be for them to find out that the true God sent His Son in order for us to have a personal relationship with Him? This relationship doesn’t rely on temple worship or goddesses of destruction, but is a real and active personal relationship with the one true God.

As I leave this temple my prayers extend to these devoted Hindus. I pray they will learn of Christ and his incredible love for them and His desire for a personal relationship.

Read Part 5