Guru? What’s a Guru?

Living Interfaith Community – now that catches my attention.

I stumbled across this place in my quest for all things faith in India and I can hardly begin to describe what I found here. Harmony, tolerance, unity and personally inner peace and calm.


Gobind Sadan was started by Baba Virsa Singh over 30 years ago, an incredible man of God who dreamt of building a place where all men and women of all faiths can come, worship and live together in harmony. His message is simple: work hard, look after others and love God. Your way! Here they hold the Havan (sacred fire) in high regard. Around the clock three Havans are tended to and prayed upon by the occupants and passing pilgrims who volunteer.

 I dutifully sat by this fire and chanted in Sanskrit in the morning, recited the Jaap Sahib in the afternoon and sat in solitude in the evening whilst wishing well on the world and all the people in it. Trying not to forget to pour the ghee and cleanse the new wood so that no ants are harmed (after all it’s a vegetarian fire).


For three days I immersed myself in the culture of Gobin Sadan. This involved quite a tight schedule that seemed to keep me busy but not bored and not tired. Up at dawn for the first round of prayers (ok so I slept through that the first day), followed by prayers and prasad at the Havan at  8:00am. Then it was over to the Gurdwara to hear the recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib and chanting by the main Havan as the Guru – Babaji made offerings to God. The words were repeated over and over in unison (tan tan a baba siri chand sahib) with the other followers. It was such a beautiful sound and there was a feeling of being in a trance. I could have sat for hours, watching the flames flicker and dance with each other along with the swaying of the Chaur Sahib (second nature after such a short time).


Quick brekky and 10:00am snuck up on me. Time to recite the Jaap Sahib – a Sikh morning prayer; complicated at first with Hindi Sanskrit and Arabic. This is sung, the leader first, then us in chorus after him. Then it was rest time and reflection. Back to the Havan for midday prayers, lunch, rest unless you’re on fire duty – I was. Then a round table reading of a passage of the Guru Granth Sahib and reflection of what those words meant to us. Off to Jesus’ place to pray at 6:00pm and the cycle continues into the night and actually starts again at 2:00am.


The Guru – of which I would say there was two, Mary an incredible woman of the lord. Check out her story below; and Babaji, who I was lucky enough to have an audience with…twice. Of course, the first time I was feeling quite overwhelmed and wasted my opportunity to chat with such a wise and awesome man of God. Instead of going deep we discussed trivial history of the farm of which I already knew and of course the pilgrimage after being prompted as to my ‘purpose’ in life. Is it my purpose? But the second time, feeling more at ease, I just waltzed up and asked if we could have a chat and thankfully and graciously he agreed.


So, what do you ask when you have the Guru’s attention? Well my heart is repairing from my previous relationship. Healing advice? I’m dating a Muslim. Interfaith advice? And I’m dedicating my life to spreading tolerance. Protection and wisdom? I go for the hat-trick. I asked if the soul tie ever really evaporates following the loss of a great love or if a part of your heart dies with that end? I’m serious. He ponders. I can hardly catch my breath hoping he really does have the answer, suddenly immersed with more heartache than I thought I had left. He speaks, “The heart overflowing with love is a gift from God. You are blessed to have had this person to mould and guide you for the period you had. I will ask God for healing.” (Don’t weep, don’t weep).


The Guru continues, “In a partnership of two faiths you have the opportunity to learn and grow in tolerance and the children will know the love of God from more than one source. Should they experience negativity from their peers, society and others, they will know through the love of God and strength of their parents that they operate on a higher field than those who judge others for their faith.” Whoa!


And finally he hits me with this,“God is always with you, I will pray for your protection but in the arms of God who is Allah, who is Shiva and who speaks to us in many forms. He will always protect you, his daughter, so be at peace.”

WOW! How can that be so heavy yet so enlightening all at once? I feel free, I feel no fear and I feel FAITH. I offer my life into the hands of God. I will succeed, I will be safe and my longing for a family WILL happen.


I think I found a Guru…. make that two! 

https://youtu.be/P7XaacSD1bg  
Yours in Faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim

 

Varanasi – Spiritual Enlightenment or Soul Destroying?

I know, heavy title, right. Hear me out.

India always presents such stark contrasts, but Varanasi is a paradox to me. It is a holy place. It is a sacred city on the banks of the holiest of holy Mama Ganga, goddess of the Hindus. It is a giver of life and sanctuary for the soul in more ways than one.

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Wandering the endless narrow streets (much like Venice without the canals) and the addition of countless cows and consequent cow shit (holy land mines, as per my host). I came across temple after temple after temple. On every corner there was a shrine to Shiva, the creator of this town. Or the telling orange clothes of an approaching sadhu. They are holy men who have dedicated their lives to God. Not to be confused with a priest; only a Brahmin can be a priest (their caste system is a whole other post).  But a holy man, who eats, sleeps and breathes prayer whilst sitting for hours chanting Sanskrit scriptures. He relies on the kindness of others for food. He is happy to offer advice and counsel if asked, but more so a man of solitary devotion to God. 


Then there is the river itself, a holy living Goddess flowing for 2500 kilometres providing life and spiritual hope to all those who adorn her banks. Or better yet to bathe in this mighty river is said to cleanse the soul. Of course, I indulged in this opportunity to cleanse some sins away. I’m the Unlikely Pilgrim after all. Holy yes, pure … not the word that comes to mind when submerged in this water, especially with a buffalo within spitting distance. 


Nonetheless I cleansed, I bathed, and I even headed to the temple to be blessed.
Like my previous entry (Cremations and Corpses) describes. There is commitment to the ceremony of this place. The dedication to rituals in ensuring the soul is clean is paramount. Pilgrims from all over India, and in fact the world, come in the millions to soak up the energy of Varanasi. In theory it is beautiful and spiritually charged. 


However both times I’ve been here I’ve felt an underlying sadness; not a surface bad feeling, but a deep sorrow in my heart.
A sorrow for the conditions here: the streets are filthy with animal mess, rubbish and general grime. Children as young as three years old beg on the streets well into the night.

 Seedy and uneasy feelings down by the river after dark surrounds me and the lower castes are avoided and disregarded. An example, the Aghori the men who work down at the cremation sites to ensure the masses get their golden ticket to heaven work tirelessly, yet I’m advised not to talk to them or risk being tainted by someone else’s woes. Superstition or discrimination? I’m undecided.


With all the colour and spirituality, Varanasi is certainly an incredible place to visit. I can’t help but invoke feelings of helplessness when I think of Varanasi though. A place so full of hope and maybe that’s why the poverty is more obvious to me here than in other parts of India. Albeit the divide is everywhere in India. Maybe it’s the simplicity of life here, because all the people need is their God. 


Find out for yourself.

http://www.visitvaranasi.com

Yours in faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim

 

Cremations and Corpses.

Got your attention! Well the cremation Ghats in Varanasi certainly had mine. Having visited this chaotic city before, I opted for a guide this time round. I had limited time and didn’t want to miss anything. Thank the Lord for Rohit, such an endearing, kind and super knowledgeable guy.

(Checkout my FaithChat with Rohit here  https://youtu.be/XfOb42mYDWA )

We headed to Manikarnika Ghat, the main cremation Ghat. There were to be no photos, I was advised (fair enough). Here the pyres burn 24 hours a day with a constant stream of bodies (people) arriving to have their life’s dream realised. For Hindus, being cremated on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi is said to break the cycle of reincarnation. You are no longer a product of your karma and no longer a victim of deeds of past lives, but on a one-way ticket to heaven.

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It is men only in this place. Women are deemed too emotional, too overcome with grief to be still and quiet as to not disturb the souls of the dead. Therefore, the men carry the corpse through the streets down to the Ghat and immerse the body in the river. A series of rituals unfold. The eldest man is shaved: head, face and neck. Various oils, herbs and specific fabrics are sourced and all have their place.

When the body is fully cleansed and prepared, it is placed upon 200 to 300 kilos of wood and set alight with a special flame. There is no fixed price for, it fluctuates by the minute 200-500 1000 rupee. Whatever the price, dependant on the day the family pays willingly.

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I watched five corpses arrive and be prepared. I witnessed the men as the family members chatted amongst themselves and oversaw proceedings in such an official and disconnected way. I bet within their hearts the grief was screaming.

But it is for the good of the soul of their loved one. An outward calm sits upon their faces. I’m not sure I could contain my grief with such control and dignity. No girls allowed; a smart move.

The sobering realisation is that in fact I’m surrounded by death, and that that stick is a leg burning before me evaporated my feelings of admiration for the families. This prompted a quick departure to the famous Blue Lassi Cafe to collect my thoughts and process what I had just seen. In my reflection, I do admire the ritual, the steadfastness of the men and the commitment of the Hindu people to journey here to die and reach salvation. I wonder if other religions were given just one act to attain salvation would our commitment be as strong and as widespread?

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I visited the Ghats just once as I felt within myself a need to respect the process that was occurring and not overstep my privilege to be part of it. The families happily allow us tourists to stop by and witness their culture and it’s up to us to do this respectfully by not making it a spectator sport.
Yours in faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim

Harassed and Man Handled at Holi.

I have two tales to tell of Holi celebrations in India. I opted for Vrindivan, the home of Holi and the birthplace of Krishna to play Holi. Here thousands of people descend to celebrate the colours and chaos of Holi; the festival of love or the festival of colour. A commemoration of Krishna and Radha’s love (his girlfriend, not his wife). A two-day festival; but in this area celebrations start well before the actual Holi day and extend a couple of days afterwards.

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Day 1 – Mathura

I wanted the whole experience so I checked into the ashram and headed down town. Day one was quite tame; visiting the local temples I experienced the fanfare of the festival with people approaching to smear coloured chalk on my face and give me a hug. Others playfully threw colour from tuk-tuks and rooftops while hollering – Hare Hare or Happy Holi.  Fun, playful, festive.

I got swept up in the dancing at the temple as the bells and drums played, chanting echoed the walls and even the constant request for selfies with the locals was palpable at this stage. I explored the temple in Mathura and attended the Holika ritual, the ceremonious burning of an effigy. Holika was a demoness who tried to kill a young Prahlad and in an elaborate attempt to burn him, she herself went up in flames. A great start to my Holi experience and feeling a little coloured out but still excited, I was ready for the big Holi day.

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Day 2 – Vrindivan

Day two was a completely different experience. All ‘saried up’ and feeling very Indian, my new friend Alessandro and I headed to the Banke Bihari temple in town that is said to have the best celebrations in town. Not that I would know as we never made it … and that’s where the dark side of the story starts.

Like the day before we were assaulted with colour from every angle and today the coloured water was also out in force. What started out quite fun rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare the closer we got to the temple. The streets were jam packed and as very few foreigners were around I felt like we had massive targets on our back. The boys were either stoned on Bhang or drunk and seemed incredibly rowdy compared to the day before. And if the constant battery of coloured chalk in your every crevice, ears, eyes, mouth, wasn’t enough, the wandering hands in the crowd started. Not fucking cool!

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As we approached the temple we got caught in what can only be described as a stampede of people. The type of situation that ends in headlines ‘10 Killed in Crush During Holi Celebrations.’ Thank God for Alessandro. His quick thinking swept us onto a little ledge where others were seeking refuge and he protected me like a bull and kept me safe.

 

Once the crowd dispersed we both agreed: fuck the temple, let’s get out of here. But it was not as easy as it sounds. Wandering the labyrinth of laneways, we were battered again and I copped a massive handful of chalk directly in my eye, not to mention opportunistic grabby hands in the crowd, resulting in more than one Indian boy copping an earful from me. Cheeky little shits.

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Exhausted, feeling completely harassed we eventually found our way and sought refuge in a more subdued street. We massively overpaid for a tuk-tuk to escape, which at this point did not bother me. I was tired, violated and soaked to the skin. We were still attacked intermittently on the ride home from the street whilst in motion, including an entire bucket of water as we slowed for a cow just to ensure the small dry bits were now drenched.

 

As a final gift some little bastard threw cow shit at us. The driver went nuts but it didn’t stop the shit from being on my sari now, did it. Safely back at the sanctuary of the ashram a few teens were out the front and attempted to colour me and they copped all the wrath from the morning and backed off very slowly. I felt like as soldier retuning from battle being safe in the barracks as we debriefed with the staff who said the centre of town wasn’t the smartest idea. Well, no shit (pardon the pun). Now you tell us. I was left feeling quite violated and wondering why people would come here and hoped that the next day would be less violent … it was. Thank God!

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Day 3 – Barsana

I welcomed day three with stained pink and blue skin and hair. We headed to Stick Holi (Haurunga); a tradition celebrated in a town 50 kilometres from Mathura where it is said Krishna made fun of Radha and her friends, so they beat him up. So, to commemorate that, men parade through the Dauji temple and get covered in red water and the women rip the men’s clothes off and beat them withtheir clothes. We managed to score a spot on the roof with the soldiers and had a bird’s eye view of the whole event which was incredible.

The fanfare was again chaotic and colourful, however this time I was safe out of harm’s way. Thousands of people participate and it felt vibrant and light. The chalk was still freely thrown but with care and playfulness, not malice, and my personal space today remained intact. I really enjoyed the celebrations at Barsana and highly recommend making the trip if you’re here for Holi, I even got interviewed for Indian television. Bonus!

In the evenings, everything calms down and I had the opportunity to explore the many temples of the area and chat to some Hare Krishna’s who explained to me the importance of Holi. In summary, I think Holi is well worth the visit and the rituals at the temples, Barsana and Mathura, on the peripheral days are enjoyable. My tip would be to stick to the back streets if you’re in Vrindivan and you will enjoy it a lot more.

Girls, don’t go alone. I rarely say that as I traipse around the world on my own, but I am so thankful for having Alessandro by my side because it was quite a difficult situation to be in alone and he deterred a lot of the carry on, and still it was rowdy and unacceptable.

So was it Happy Holi – I think yes but I’ll be rethinking my plans for Deepvali to ensure my safety and comfort during these mass celebrations.

 

Yours in Faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim

Sinners are Grinners in Rio

After a very interesting few days in Sao Paulo I was in need of a very stiff drink or two. Rio’s Carnival did not disappoint. This five day festival of music, dancing, parties and what appeared to be free love was just what the doctor ordered.

Carnival, believe it or not, is originally a Catholic tradition to signify the beginning of Lent. ‘Carne’ from meat and ‘vale’ from farewell. Farewell to meat as the abstinence of Lent is upon us. Today of course the Mother Mary and Jesus Christ was not the immediate thought that sprung to mind as I samba’d my way through the crowds of people in fancy dress (or fantasy as they call it), from batman to pirates, fairies and okay, so I met one Jesus.

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The bloco parties are the places to be – informal samba parades through the streets. There is a list of maybe 50 to 60 parades every day of carnival in different neighbourhoods and are not to be missed. At the Boitata bloco party the ebb and flow of bodies in the crowd seemed to be in unison with the band marching behind us. The access to ice cold beer is second to none, given that on every corner and in fact through the parades, entrepreneurial vendors are selling beer and alcoholic icy poles from their eskies and the crowds sells them out.

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The Brazilians are VERY friendly and I met some lovely people through my host Monica and on the streets where I did have to duck out of a random kiss or two. As my Uber driver explained via Google translate, Carnival is for kissing. Well I can see that from the plethora of loved up couples and strangers for that matter. There was mouth to mouth on the streets and dreamy eyes were constantly being thrown in my direction, and that of the other cutsie batgirls that surrounded me.  This is ironically what my grade 8 religion teacher would say is a party for heathens. That’s certainly the viewpoint I received from the odd service I managed to attend in my attempt to drag myself away from the delightful sin of Cerveza and Samba and get back on track. The Unlikely Pilgrim, oh yes religion that’s right…

So, to balance out my Ying and Yang approach to my time in Rio was Church Day, Party Day or Angel in the morning, Devil by night. Slightly hungover I ventured to the Monastery of Sao Bento high on the hill in the docks area. I’m so glad that I did not miss this. The monks here celebrate with the Gregorian chant every Sunday at mass time; it felt like I was catapulted back in time. I was surrounded by the incredible splendour of gold leaf shrines to Catholic Saints, spectacular decorative architecture flaunting the wealth of the empire at the time.

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Yet amongst all this splendour there was a serious tone and devout tradition in the ritual of the service, complete with incense burning in the thurible. These 16 men in their dark robes and stern faces together provide a baritone melody saying Lord knows what that echoed through this incredible building and into my soul. Time for another bloco! 😉

I could spend months exploring the churches, cathedrals and immerse myself in the Saint’s Day rituals that are a-plenty here. Perhaps Carnival was not the right time to come? Beer and live music is my weakness in life (albeit I managed the Christ Redeemer – an incredible monument – Checkout my YouTube clip on it – link below);  though I did venture to into the Favela’s to discover the grip of Catholicism and the Evangelical movement on those communities . If I’m honest, the backbeat of the samba parade and bloco parties won this round.

SO, through the haze of beer goggles, and bronzed Brazilian babes, my Summary is this: Brazilians love (in no particular order) the Lord, beer and women.

 

Yours in Faith,

 

The Unlikely Pilgrim

 

Homelessness & Hatred, Healed by Humanity

 

Atlanta, Georgia. In nine short hours, I came to understand the meaning of ’Southern hospitality’ . The key to a united world is with our children, and in two separate and very moving experiences, I have faith that the future of America is in safe hands . It was in the Martin Luther King District I found the first inspiring bunch as I loitered around the entrance of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

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I met Jesse from UP  of Atlanta, a beautiful soul influencing and guiding young minds away from fear and prejudice and into the light of humanity. After eavesdropping about what a wonderful thing they were doing for the community, I was intrigued. So naturally, I huddled up to the teachers and asked what they were doing. The Galloway school arranges community events for their older students to go out and give back to five separate initiatives for a week every year. Today, they were sharing food with people in need within the city area. So I went along. These kids were so eager to learn about my travels, who I had met, and where I’d been. They were so open-minded.

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As we wandered the streets in the city, they approached people willingly, saying in cheerful tones, “Hello, we’re in the community today sharing food. Would you like a sandwich?” These people were sleeping rough on the streets of Atlanta and were totally loving the support. The kindness, the love, never mind the food, it’s about human interaction and these kids were so open to everybody that they came across. We met up with a man called Ben who had battled addiction for many years and had survived to tell the tale; emerging as a shining light to the people in the community. Ben has his own business now. He provides clothes to the homeless; to the less fortunate people like he was. What an inspirational guy, he stood before the kids and said, “What you’re doing today, you’ll never know how much you’re impacting people and somebody you reach out to today may have been contemplating their last day on earth.”

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A sobering thought but probably accurate. I can’t imagine the streets of Atlanta being the most forgiving of places after dark. The love that poured from these kids, and in fact these teachers, was incredible. It was Ash Wednesday and we found a church without walls that holds services in parks and different places encouraging peer support. The team of people volunteering and helping other people, regardless of whether they’re still dealing with their own struggles or not, is amazing. This empowers the community and  recognises that everybody needs help sometimes, not to mention how rewarding and motivating it is to be the one giving back.

Inspired, but in a hurry. I left my new classmates and headed to the Centre for Civil and Human Rights. Wow! I was blown away by that as well. Teaming with school groups, from seven years of age and up. It’s a new building, only built a few years ago and a must see if you’re in town. One exhibit that really got me was the simulated ‘Sit In’. In the ’60s when segregation was still polluting the south and white only diners were plentiful, courageous men and women staged sit-ins to protest. These crusaders, these pioneers at lunch counters across the state were subjected to horrendous abuse and still not served. The exhibit – ‘Sitting on a bench’. You close your eyes. Put your palms face down, headphones on and racial abuse is screamed at you for two and a half minutes. Violent, disgraceful, and bone chilling slurs. Even the chair, it stomps and shakes as people verbally assault you and threaten your life, whispering through utter hatred in your ears. It was so real! As I got up, in unison with the three teenage girls who sat with me, I was overwhelmed and so were they.

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I burst into tears. I was so touched and disgusted that that is what has happened in the past and still today racial equality is not a given in all societies. One of the teenagers passed me a tissue and the centre employee nearby said in a very Southern accent, “Don’t y’all worry, everybody cries.” I thought, what a brilliant idea that is, to really make you think. I’m a white Christian female; discrimination doesn’t enter my world really because of my location, my heritage and my birthplace. I’ve never had to be subjected to that sort of demoralising behaviour. I certainly was inspired to explore the South a lot more. My flying visit which was supposed to be nine hours of boredom at the airport turned out to be a fascinating and incredible day. The Bible belt, I’ll be back.

Yours in Faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim

Sao Paulo – Unique Encounters – Part 2: Universal Church

In Sao Paulo, a giant replica of the original Temple of Solomon has been erected by the evangelical Universal Church and Kingdom of God. It seems to be encased in controversy here in Brazil and outside and my research brought up quite nasty headlines and articles, so I thought I’d see for myself. I was initially a bit apprehensive given the amount of security and the preconceived notions I had from my research. Yet I found a lovely pastor visiting from India and the reception lady was very helpful and arranged an English-speaking tour of the tabernacle later in the day. Flavia was very knowledgeable and answered all my questions on my private tour of which two other men did accompany us, which felt odd. He humoured my questions about the synergy of certain aspects that seem to crop up in lots of religions like the numbers  three or seven, for example. The replica tabernacle erected was interesting, not spectacular, but I understand its purpose as a prop to the story of Moses, the tabernacle and the temple, so that was fine.

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What lingered eerily in my mind (which I did question Flavia on was that after two hours touring a visit to the tabernacle and impressive memorial, it felt like I had just visited a Jewish Museum. So why did a Christian organisation spend $US300 million of their and their congregation’s money on building what felt like a shrine to Judaism, in Brazil of all places? His response was simply to remind people of God our saviour, a bit weak I thought. The stones were imported from Israel, the specifications, word for word, were from the old testament, yet scaled up five times. (Was that necessary?) Olive trees were from Mount Mariah. I’m open, it’s glorious, but why? If a Jewish movement built it, I’d get it, but to me it’s a bit like a Buddhist sect in Australia recreating the mosque of the dome of the rock in Sydney . Okay so Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all Abrahamic religions but still, I’m lost. Any ideas? My research continues…

What happened next was what blew me out of the water! I decided to return a couple of days later to attend a service and the night-time service was the busy one. Wow! I approached and was ushered towards an English speaker who took me underneath the courtyard where all electronics and food must be deposited (no phones). Led through a thorough search with full pat down and I was asked to taste test my two water bottles (excessive?). This is Brazil, but I’d wandered in and out of mosques, churches and a temple already (feeling sceptical at this point). We entered, (I’m still being escorted) we ran into Samuel the Indian pastor and we sat together where we could listen to the English translation. Was he there by accident or am I being paranoid? It started! Boom, the preacher (bishop) entered the stage of this monumentally large room with a replica covenant at the front of the room and imitation columns at the side. The décor, whilst grand and lovely, felt almost like a church themed conference hall, beautifully modern, but I’m a sucker for the grandeur and detail of old historical churches from days gone by. Perhaps this interior will be admired in 500 years’ time by faith writers of the future. The outside certainly will, it was just an odd contrast, but maybe that’s just me?

Like any service, prayers were said, songs were sung and the energy of the congregation was one of light and love. Until I heard what sounded like screaming coming from the other side of the hall muffled by the translation headphones I was wearing, then suddenly like the climax of a scary movie, I looked up and on the screens you could see the bishop addressing a woman vehemently. She looked like what appeared to me like Sigourney Weaver at the end of the movie Ghost Busters. This was an exorcism in progress (oh shit!).

Samuel the Indian pastor had already headed to the front to participate in praying over the congregation at the front and was feeling very far from home. The bishop was shouting through the woman to the demon in her and whether I subscribe to the belief that this woman had a demon inside her to address it, it certainly looked that way. She looked dishevelled, eyes red and erratic, her voice was soft, yet was a violent whisper when responding to the bishop. Meanwhile the entire congregation of about 6000 held their hands up towards the woman and shouted something in unison that translated in my ears as “GET OUT!” It was surreal, I was frightened as I prayed to God for protection and the fanfare of it made me question the authenticity, but Brazilians are quite forward in most things and the same can be said for many rituals in many religions, ‘Eid sacrifice, Holi among others’. Ten to 15 minutes passed (it felt like a lifetime) and it was done. The woman had been delivered from her evil and was now debriefing with the bishop. She looked completely different, refreshed, kind, and elated.

I probably looked disturbed when Samuel returned. “Let’s talk about what just happened there after; shall we Sam?” The rest of the service was as expected, a well-delivered sermon, inspired reflection on the topic of relationships. It was a relevant and engaging message by the bishop, co-hosted by his wife. I really enjoyed it but was also coming down from the opening events.

In the week following this encounter I have been challenging my response and view. This was a very different experience for me. It was new and it made me nervous, however I was the only one, everyone else was fine, everyone else was participating. Should a Muslim enter a temple at Galangun in Bali and witness the slaughtering of a pig, they would be horrified. Similarly, if a Buddhist attending the sacrifice of Eid in a mosque, I imagine appauled is how they would feel. And yes, this Christian was overwhelmed in witnessing an exorcism in the universal church but that doesn’t make any of those rituals less valid than another. It opened my eyes and I will attend the universal church more. This experience has challenged my pilgrimage, it’s challenged me to commit to have an open heart and open mind, even when I am apprehensive, because again, the similarity is there. Shocking and confronting, but deliverance is present in at least four of the top six religions that I’m researching. And that’s ones that I know of.

Mmm…let the adventure continue – next stop is Carnival, which is probably a good thing. I need a beer!

Yours in Faith,

The Unlikely Pilgrim