Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 8 - College, Didar's House, Temple, and Museum

On Saturday morning we departed Amritsar, with the eventual destination to be Chandigarh.  The distance to cover was less than 300 kilometers, but we had a full day of stops along the way.
Our first stop was at Khalsa College of Education Sant Baba Hari Singh Memorial, an affiliation of Punjab University of Chandigarh.  This University's core curriculum was technologically focused, but also offered degrees in the arts and science.  When we arrived, we were once again greeted with flowers and refreshments.  Since it was a Saturday, the school was not in session, yet over 100 students and faculty were present on their day off to welcome us and interact with our group.  We learned about the school from the Associate Professor of English, Dr. Kalwarn Singh, and conversely shared with them the background of the California Ag Leadership Program.  Both the students and CALP members were inspired by Dr. Thomas and Mr. Didar Bains, a graduate of Khalsa college.  Their speeches emphasized that learning is a life long process, and anything is possible if we value education and hard work as priorities.  After interacting informally with the students, we learned that many of the kids were obtaining their Masters and Doctorate degrees to become teachers in India.  They stated their motivation to become teachers was to increase the availability of education to all kids in India, regardless of caste or financial means.

Following our visit, we were treated to lunch at Karam Hotel in Hoshiarpur thanks to Karam Bain's father, Mr. Didar Bains.  We were then invited to his residence for some refreshments.  We were surprised to find a formal marching band waiting to greet us.  They put on a very impressive show for us as we entered the beautiful and comfortable residence.  Several of the villagers were also present to greet us and join us for refreshments.  Mr. Bains's hospitality was over the top, and we greatly appreciated the gesture.

After our libations, it was back on the bus to rush to the Punjab Holy Sikh Temple of Anandpur Sahib where we were presented with a beautiful sword.  Adjacent to the temple was the Khalsa Heritage Museum, a magnificent structure that was beautifully designed both inside and out.  The museum was filled with artwork and sculptures that depicted the history of the Punjab Provence and Sikh religion, which is expressly against asceticism and renunciation.  The Sikh religion was created to distinguish itself from Hinduism, founded on the basic principal that all people are equal; no caste, no creed, no country dividing.  The practicing Sikh lives his life through honest work and devotion to his duty, his family, and his society.

Closing another action packed day, our group was relatively docile as we pulled into our hotel after midnight in Chandigarh for a few hours rest.

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