In 2014, I visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, Sri Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God), the holiest place for Sikhs. It is an exquisite plaza of marble walkways and a beautiful temple made of gold where Sikhs pay homage to the Guru, gather in the Langar Hall to either help make a meal or feed the hungry, and wash themselves in the holy waters surrounding the Golden Temple.
What I loved most – and I loved a lot about that visit – was the warm welcome I received, even though I wasn’t Sikh. It was there that I learned that Sikhs welcome all people, of all religions, and recognize the holiness in every individual. It was a powerful lesson, and one that made me feel I could equally discover holiness in the landscape of the Golden Temple.
When it was built, the Golden Temple was intended to be a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally. The four entrances symbolize the openness of the Sikhs toward all people and religions. Today, more than 100,000 people visit their every single day.
I asked the 600 returning students, what is your holy place? Where do you go to pray? What would be your ideal gathering place for your community?
If I were to build a Holy place, it would be symmetrical because everyone there is equal. I would make the floor out of glass, with the whole structure over a lake so you can look down and see the water. I would make the walls out of white marble—clean, like a blank slate—like everyone, before they make choices. I would have paintings and sculptures of unity, how the world can be peaceful. I would have big, wide, and open windows, that let in the smell of water. In the main room, there would be a very tall domed ceiling with a little window on the top. There would be a community kitchen and closet, to show that everyone is welcome, even those that need help. I would have a very large courtyard were everyone can learn and talk together in a serene environment. There would be only the rules of equality and love.
By Sydney, Winter Warrior
A holy place for me would be made of granite with a top containing gold. In the center, there would be a very large pond with a fountain in it. The pond would contain multi-colored pebbles and stones. In the Temple, there would be all bright yellow, thick carpet and no shoes allowed. There would be a place to get a special souvenir that is only available here. I would want for it to be very well lit. It would be the shape of a pyramid with glass windows on the tops of each sides. The indoor walls would be made of light-colored wood.
By Kate W., Power Middle School
If I could create a holy place, it would be one of a kind.
On the outside it’d be surrounded with green patches of grass
Forming the Islamic
When looked at from above
For the walls, I’d use only the best of the best of stones
Bright white and strong bricks to withstand centuries.
It would be gold on the inside of walls
And many decorations and hand-made carvings.
It would be spectacular.
By Ainsley Nelson, CBCS
If I were to build a holy place, it would have purple cart to represent loyalty, with huge crystal chandeliers. The walls would be marble with torches on them to light the way. I would have a second floor, as well as an attic for storage. The ceiling would have thick glass. The main prayer hall would be perfectly symmetrical, in a hexagon shape. The kitchen would have the best utensils and would be located in the center of the main floor to be able to serve food in every direction.
By Jonathan Sheymgauz, Berkshire middle School