On the highway again for most of the day but a real early start (5.00 am) but, we were able to break the back of a 90 km distance ride very early before the traffic build up and before the hot sun came beaming down. People from different religions out for prayers again. Closer to Kuala Lumpur now and in a better position to report on various religions and cultures in Malaysia. Along the way we have predominately seen mosques and the very occasional Hindu temple alongside the road. When a Hindu temple comes into view the traffic seems to come to a standstill as hundreds of Malaysian Indians are busily rotating through the temple for their morning prayers.
I decided to do some video footage at a small Hindu temple that caught my eye (on route) but , again I looked out of place in my cycling gear doing a video clip of the temple, but I observed cultural rules by not entering with my shoes on. Everyone appeared curious about a strange foreigner in cycling garb moving in and around the temple entrance (as you would) taking videos and photographs, but at the same time all showed politeness as such with lots of greetings (hands cupped together) towards me and smiling in the process. Watch this space - YouTube TLRH - Truck at a Hindu Temple in Malaysia.
A temple or mandir is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. The symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple are rooted in Vedic traditions. A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmos - presenting the good, the evil and the human, as well as the elements of Hindu sense of cyclic time and the essence of life - symbolically presenting dharma, kama, artha, moksa and karma.
The spiritual principles symbolically represented in Hindu temples are given in the ancient Sanskrit texts of India, for example, Vedas and Upanishadswhile, their structural rules are described in various ancient Sanskrit treatises on architecture (Brhat Samhita, Vastu Sastras). The layout, the motifs, the plan and the building process recite ancient rituals, geometric symbolisms, and reflect beliefs and values innate within various schools of Hinduism. A Hindu temple is a spiritual destination for many Hindus, as well as landmarks around which ancient arts, community celebrations and economy have flourished.
Hindu temples come in many styles, are situated in diverse locations, deploy different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional beliefs, yet almost all of them share certain core ideas, symbolism and themes. They are found in South Asia particularly India and Nepal, in southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and islands of Indonesia and Malaysia and countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, Suriname, South Africa, Europe and North America with a significant Hindu community. The current state and outer appearance of Hindu temples reflect arts, materials and designs as they evolved over several millennia; they also reflect the effect of conflicts between Hinduism and Islam since the 12th century.
Almost all Hindu temples take two forms: a house or a palace. A house-themed temple is a simple shelter which serves as a deity’s home. The temple is a place where the devotee visits, just like he or she would visit a friend or relative. In Bhakti school of Hinduism, temples are venues for puja, which is a hospitality ritual, where the deity is the honored, and where devotee calls upon, attends to and connects with the deity. In other schools of Hinduism, the person may simply perform jap, or meditation, or yoga, or introspection in his or her temple.
A palace-themed temples are more elaborate, often monumental architecture whilst major Hindu temples are recommended at sangams (confluence of rivers), river banks, lakes and seashore, Brhat Samhita and Puranassuggest temples may also be built where a natural source of water is not present. Here too, they recommend that a pond be built preferably in front or to the left of the temple with water gardens. If water is neither present naturally nor by design, water is symbolically present at the consecration of temple or the deity. Temples may also be built, suggests Visnudharmottara in Part III of Chapter 93, inside caves and carved stones, on hill tops affording peaceful views, mountain slopes overlooking beautiful valleys, inside forests and hermitages, next to gardens, or at the head of a town street.
More to follow on different cultures and religion as Matt and I travel further South towards Singapore over the next week.
We have been riding for 5 straight days without a rest day with another long day tomorrow (6th day) into Kuala Lumpur for a rest day on Sunday. Looking forward to kicking the leg up, but a bit of maintenance to do on the bike after a break down momentarily the other day.
A big welcome by the Australian High Commission Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur ahead (Monday) after a wreath laying ceremony at the Malaysian War Memorial. More to report on that after what promises to be a special day.
Truck and Matt
On the long ride home, Malaysia
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