Gravesend, 28th January 2011
On a bitterly cold but sunny afternoon Lin and I decided to visit the Gurdwara, the Sikh temple in Gravesend. When we arrived we noticed that building work was still in progress on the exterior. There are certain rules to be observed when entering a Sikh Temple. The first is that shoes have to be removed and left in racks. It is also necessary to cover the head and we had taken scarves with us. Not only is work in progress on the outside but also inside and there is still a lot to be done. Most of the building material is marble, which has been worked into ornate patterns. Once inside we made our way up a very large staircase and found ourselves facing a large room called a Diwan Hall. We approached a raised dais, which had two large boxes in front that were obviously meant for money. We waited until someone else entered, watched what they did and found that money had been placed in the largest box, which we did. We looked into another room but on the dais inside was a priest intoning so we did not enter. We had made several mistakes. The first, we had not noticed that it was necessary to wash one’s hands when entering the Diwan Hall. There were washbasins and soap on the walls outside. The large staircase had two sides and we had not realised that one was for men and one for women. We had gone up the correct staircase but had come down on the men’s side. The visit was an interesting experience. For further exploration start at the Gurdwara Homepage. There is also a very useful Guide for Visitors.