Venturing into Jamnagar

At Reliance, we are 35-40 minutes drive away from the Jamnagar city proper. Fortunately, Austin has a driver that takes the workers to and from the refinery in the morning and evening. During the day, he hangs out in Reliance Greens waiting to take the workers. So, we asked him if he could take us into Jamnagar. He lives on the outskirts of Jamnagar, but was more than happy to drive us into town and show us around. 

The trucks here are painted with all sorts of cool and colorful patterns, like this!

Thanks, Mr. Khan, for taking our picture!
Cows by the lake

On the way into town, we passed by many different kinds of buildings and houses. Some were living in hotels that looked like well built structures. Some were in cement walled houses with tarp roofs. Others were in leantos that were all built next to each other with dirt floors and laundry hanging everywhere. I watched ladies washing clothing in the dirty river. I saw two little kids playing unsupervised near the busy highway with a full tied-up trash bag for a ball. I wanted so desperately to be able to help lift all these people out of poverty and give them a fraction of all the stuff I own and don’t really need. I tried to imagine what my life would be like living in one of the dirt floored lean-toes and how difficult life would be. It was eye-opening and heart breaking all at the same time. Once in the city, things weren’t much better. Trash and dust everywhere. Cows and goats and stray dogs and humans co-existing in an interesting way. Filthy little road-side food places, half-way built and collapsed buildings alongside newer buildings and nice clothing stores. People, everywhere- piled on scooters and auto rickshaws, the lucky ones in cars. Walking, riding bikes, driving big trucks, all going going going. Roads that looked like were closed for market (stalls on both sides, looked like a farmer’s market but with clothing and all kinds of stuff) our driver honked his horn and took us down- I guess they were open, just full of people. We got interesting looks everywhere we drove. I would never ever want to try to navigate around this place. It is crazy.

The castle/fort we wanted to go see… alas it was closed
Landon and our amazing driver, Mr. Khan!

Little did we know, today was a festival day for the Hindu God Ram. Kids were out of school today and there was a lot more foot traffic. Our first stop was Lakhota Lake, a lake in the center of the city. Since today was a day off school, there were lots of young people and grandparents who had brought their grandchildren to feed the migratory birds that call the lake home this time of year. In the middle of the lake is a castle or fortress that has been turned into a museum. There are walkways from the banks of the lake right up to the doors. We decided we wanted to go there first, but our plans were thwarted because it was closed for the holiday. Still, we asked if we could get out with the stroller and walk for a bit around the lake. Austin seemed a little nervous about us going all the way around, so we went for a little ways, took some pictures, Landon met some kids, and then we went back. There was a pen with cows in it. People were coming to feed the cows as well as the birds. There were a few stray dogs but not many. Because it is the city center, there were tons of filthy little children begging. They came up and tapped my arm and held their little hands out for food/money. I had some snacks for Landon, but nothing individually packaged that I could easily give to all of them. It broke my heart to not give them anything, and they were very persistent even when our driver told them to go away. The lake was pretty, but also full of trash and it seemed to be very low. Must be monsoon season soon!

Hindu temple, see all the shoes?

Next, our driver took us to a Hindu temple where they hold the world record for longest continuous chanting. They have been chanting their continuously since 1964! Because of the holiday there was a big crowd of people there, and many coming in and out. People took off their shoes and went in to the temple to offer offerings and prayers to the gods and then in return, received a red spot of ash or saffron on their forehead, and then came back out and did something like crossing themselves and then went on their way. It was fairly open air so we could see in and the chanting was amplified with speakers so we could hear it really well. All in all it was hectic, and I saw the poor beggar children filling up water bottles with water that was brown. Broke my heart all over again.

Sign saying how long the chant has been going without a break, since 8/1/1964!

After a short drive we arrived at the Jain temple. The feel of this place was much different from the Hindu temple. It was a large Jain temple complex with several interconnected temples. The temples were white with intricate carvings on the outside domes. We were invited in after taking off our shoes. Everything was made of white marble. In every entryway there were big bells that worshippers rang as they entered and exited. It symbolizes leaving the cares of the world behind. It was so peaceful there, such a contrast from the turmoil of the city outside. It was clean- a huge contrast from the dust and trash outside. Austin and I try not to take pictures of the inside of religious buildings out of respect, so the inside I will try to describe/ steal pics from the internet. The inside was very colorful! There were frescoes and paintings all over the walls and lots of pillars with paintings on them.

Jain important person! This is what they all looked like, basically.
The outside of the Jain temple entrance

Alcoves all around were filled with various Jain influential people (teachers and rulers) in meditation poses. White statues were teachers, gold colored statues were rulers. A quick peek at wikipedia and some other websites told me that Jains have some interesting beliefs. The various statues around the temple were statues of teachers and political leaders that have been influential in Jainism, which was started in 9 B.C. It prescribed a life of non-violence and self control that eventually leads to liberation. They don’t eat meat or eggs, and some do not eat dairy products because it hurts animals to get their milk. They avoid going outside at night so as to not crush bugs under foot, and many do not eat root vegetables because the disturbance in the soil can hurt bugs, and the roots of the tubers remind them of living things too much. Those who wish to become Jain ascestics are also celibate and break off all relationships with family and friends and give up all possessions. They must walk everywhere on foot and wander from place to place, not using electricity or other modes of transport.

The top from the courtyard

A worshipper who spoke English pointed out to us a trap door that led to a palace, so that the people who were at the palace and/or temple could escape through an underground tunnel if attacked. All around the outside of the inner round temple were alcoves with many, many Jain teachers and rulers. Austin pointed out that they all had slightly different markings. I thought most of them looked the same. Austin learned about Jains in his world religions class at BYU, but didn’t really remember anything except that the professor said that it was very rare and that he probably would never meet a Jain unless he went to the part of India where it is practiced. Well, here we were. In the middle of the round temple where all the gods were around the outside was a chapel of sorts. There was a monk guy in traditional dress who was chanting and singing haunting tunes. In the center of the room was an altar with dry rice that had been shaped into the shape of the swastika, where the 4 arms symbolize the 4 places where you can go in the cycle of birth and death- heaven, hell, human or flora/fauna. The rice- being a nonfertile entity, symbolizes that Jains want this current life to be their last life before they reach liberation and heaven.  There was a woman who came in with flowers, and there were many flowers that had been placed on some of the statues. Some of the worshippers went around the big round part of the temple, bowing and worshipping select statues, I’m guessing depending on what they needed help with. Austin carried Landon as we went through this temple, and the weird part was that Landon was totally quiet the whole time. The feeling of peace and calm was that pervasive.

The top from the street 

After going in the temple, I felt very fortunate that I know we have one omniscient, omnipresent God who loves each of us and can help us with all our problems. He is the Father of our spirits, and loves us as His spirit children.  He does ask us to obey certain commandments in order to become better people and to become like Him. He does not ask us to forgo all meat, though, and for that I am grateful.

The front gate from our vehicle- this was just smack in the middle of the city!

Following the Jain temple, our driver took us to a famous fabric/dress shop to buy some traditional Indian clothes. He seemed to know exactly where to go- not the market where we would get haggled, but to this nice shop on the outskirts of town. You take your shoes off and go inside. The whole floor is cushions. The owner and her family were sitting on the floor, but they had step stools that they invited us to sit on. The owner’s son spoke really good English, but he was not there, so we began without him. We decided that I wanted some Kurtas- sleeved tunic-like tops, in blues and greens. I also wanted pants. Jamnagar is famous for a type of tie-dye that involves tie dying in only specific places on the fabric, so it looks a little like batiks, but more like cool polka dots in patterns. I picked 3 that I really liked. Then I tried them on. Even an XL was too tight around the shoulders for my ex-swimmer shoulders. So, our plans were derailed. I had to start looking for kurtas all over again. I found one in my size that I really liked, but no others. Then we got on to the subject of pants. There was one pair of pants that fit me, and I wanted another in blue. At this point, the son arrived and he was able to help translate and straighten things out. That’s when I found out that she could custom make me a pair of pants in blue. So we decided to do that. Since she was already doing that, she said she could make the kurtas I originally liked a little bigger. So in all, I got 3 kurtas and 2 pairs of baggy cotton amazing comfy pants. Then, she wanted Austin to try a kurta on. He tried on the biggest size and it was obviously too small. They were convinced it was just because he was wearing a T-shirt under, that when he wasn’t, it would fit just fine. That just wasn’t true. So, she is custom making Austin a kurta that will hopefully fit. Then it was on to the baby. The smallest kurta was a little big on Landon, and it was purple. So, she is making Landon a tiny kurta as well. I also got a matching scarf. All in all we got 8 pieces of clothing for 6000 rupees, or about $100. Custom made clothing, Hoorah! We pick it up on Friday, I can’t wait for our new outfits! Stay tuned!

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