Chris and I originally had different plans this weekend, but something we have come to expect while exploring the burned over district is to have no expectations. Despite our plans being cancelled, Chris and I quickly devised a back-up plan and decided to drive south through Geneseo to the Abbey of the Genesee…you know, that place where they make Monk’s Bread…hence the name.
Despite the weather being pretty crummy, Chris, my wife and I made it to the monastery quite quickly. We had anticipated arriving in time for one of the five daily liturgical services the monks do Monday through Saturday (on Sundays and holidays the monks actually have six services). At the Abbey of the Genesee, the five liturgical services are as follows:
The Abbey of the Genesee (Front Entrance)
2:25 am – Vigils
6:00 am – Lauds (& Mass)
11:15 am – Sext
4:30 pm – Vespers (or 4:00 pm – Vespers & Mass)
6:40 pm – Compline
The three of us arrived early for Sext, so we explored the small sitting area, and also the bread store where not only was there every kind of Monk’s Bread being sold, but also coffee, cookies, dessert breads and lots of books. There was a monk delivering bread from the factory on site to the store, and he was actually talking to several different customers. Apparently, each monk takes turns every day as to who is allowed to communicate with the public. This monk was dressed up in stereotypical monk’s clothing and could not have been any younger than 60-years-old.
This project of exploring has taken us all over and allowed us to meet a ton of different people. We’re very grateful to everyone who has reached out and welcomed us. One of those people in particular is Ashok Gupta, whom you may remember from the post on the Hindu Temple of Rochester. After visiting the Hindu Temple, Ashok explained that he also had some involvement with Sikhism and invited us to some day visit him at the Gurdwara. We couldn’t possibly turn down an invitation like that.
The Gurdwara of Rochester was built in 1986 on Dublin Road in Penfield on a seven acre plot of land. The site started with a worship area and kitchen, and later doubled it’s space with an expansion to include a community area that is commonly used for meals and events. The outside is a humble looking brick single-story building that could easily be mistaken for a medical or office building. There are small, notable distinguishing features, but the most noteworthy is that the flag pole near the entrance is shrouded in a pale orange sheet from top to bottom, this is referred to has the Nishan Sahib, which is the Sikh flag. Sikhs who are traveling in unfamiliar territory can recognize the flag and be assured a safe place for them to worship while away from home. There is no architectural requirement for a site to be determined a Gurdwara, it is only required that the spiritual text be placed and revered on site.
When Luke and I walked in, it was obvious it was a safe place for non-Sikhs as well. We stepped inside and were greeted by a few men who shook our hands and welcomed us and invited us to sit for breakfast, as Ashok hadn’t arrived yet. We took off our shoes and were instructed to cover our heads with bandana style headwear, as it is required that the head be covered while in the Gurdwara as a sign of respect to God. We were invited in to the community area where a freshly prepared breakfast of traditional Indian foods had been laid out. Despite having just eaten a huge American diner style breakfast, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass. We grabbed a little taste of everything, and were invited to sit with Maghar Chana who is the General Secretary of the Gurdwara, and then the stories began.
Categories: #ROC, Sikhism
Tags: Gurdwara, Guru, Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanek Dev, Khalsa, Mul Mantar, Punjab, Punjabi, Rochester, Sikh, Sikhism
While Chris and I did go somewhere this week, which will be posted in a few days, I recently encountered something without Chris that I am going to briefly blog about. My wife was asked a few months ago to be the god-mother of one of the three triplet daughters our friends recently had. Now if you are reading this blog and know me, you probably know what my feelings are on baptism and religion in general, so I will attempt to spare you from that on here. But needless to say, I was simply a spectator in this event, and was definitely okay with it. However, I have never, ever seen a baptism, so it was kind of cool and even more so because of what Chris and I have been experiencing lately. I even considered trying to figure out a way of inviting Chris to this baptism, but that would have been weird…sorry Chris.
Our Mother of Sorrows
For those that may not know, baptism is a Christian rite of admission, almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church. Baptism has been called a sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ. Depending on your certain sect of Christianity, baptism can occur at different times of life, and even when someone is deceased. The baptism I witnessed was what I expected, and occurred at the Our Mother of Sorrows Church on Mt. Read Boulevard in North Greece. It involved taking a small pitcher of water and slowly pouring it over each infant’s head while the officiant recited some prayers. However, this was after about a half-hour of praying and asking the god-parents if they were living a life free of Satan (I found this very funny…is that bad?) Read more
Recognizing that many may be celebrating Easter this weekend, Chris and I chose to steer clear of anything Christian and instead we attended the Islamic Center of Rochester this past Thursday night. This was the first time that we attended somewhere during the week, which in itself was not bad; but it inadvertently created down time during the weekend (where we were forced to spend time with our families!).
Islamic Center of Rochester
Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest growing religions in the world, with over 1.5 billion followers, which is over 22% of earth’s population. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. Muslims believe that Allah (God) is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to love and serve Allah. Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets. They maintain that previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time, but consider the Qur’an to be the eternal, literal word of Allah. Muslims believe that the Qur’an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel, and that Muhammad is the last in a series of prophets beginning with Adam. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic or Sharia law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society.
This whole project of exploring different faiths and belief systems has taught us a ton. We are constantly asked why we’re even bothering to do this and visit all the places that we are. What it essentially comes down to is just plain curiosity and desire to expand who we are as humans by exposing ourselves to as much culture and education as we can. There’s a ton of things that exist around all of us in the day to day world that we’re entirely unfamiliar with. Luke and I have decided that, relative to religion and spiritual beliefs, we don’t want to be unaware of all the ideas and philosophies that exist–that help to contribute to the world in which we live.
It’s easy to read history books or websites or even a blog and get a factual account of how and why things exist, but it’s entirely different to be able to experience it first hand. I won’t pretend that going to visit the Hindu Temple suddenly made me aware of what it’s like to be follower of Hinduism, but a small glimpse in to the culture of which we are unfamiliar can only add to who we are as people, and to help obtain a greater understanding for the people we share the planet with.
We called the Church of Scientology this morning, told them what we were doing on this project of exploring and writing a blog and told them we’d love to come visit and asked if it would be okay. A gentlemen on the phone (I’ll make everyone anonymous since they specifically pointed that out as a concern) told us they’d be happy to have us, and give us a tour and he’d have someone ready to meet with us and answer all our questions when we arrived. We were definitely stoked to be visiting a place where we felt welcomed, and to be learning about something brand new. On the road to Buffalo we went…..