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SITE VISIT WORKSHEET

You will use this worksheet for both your Eastern religion visit and your Western religion visit.

Name: Ashley N. Thompson


Where I went: Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple- South Jordan
When I went: 2/12/2017

In order to get credit for your site visits, you must complete the following questions and submit via upload at the
appropriate time (Midterm or Final). Please use complete sentences, and no question should be answered as yes
or no only.

BEFORE YOU ATTEND: List 3 of what you understand to be the primary beliefs of this faith.
1. Caste system
2. Brahman
3. Samsara

How does this religion understand the world?


Positive: They have three main Deities but each represents multiple images which gives everyone the ability to worship an
image that might be important to them or to their family. Negative: They believe in a caste system that hinders social
progress.
How does this religion understand their relationship to others?
They have a caste system in which higher and lower class are not allowed to mingle and the lower class is mistreated by
the higher class.

DURING ATTENDANCE PAY ATTENTION TO THESE THREE DIMENSIONS:

1) Physical (Spatial) observations: What did the worship space look like?
a) Was there symbolism on the exterior of the building? What is its purpose?
The building itself was very plain. Walking up to the door, you walk under a stone structure that is almost built like
a pyramid. It is very detailed carved with symbols and deities. I think the deities carved into the structure would possibly
be ones that they worship. It looked like they were renovating that structure and a few other things on the outside.
b) What rituals marked the boundary between sacred and profane? (The extraordinary and the ordinary)
All of the deities where kept in beautifully carved cases. The carvings were so intricate that they could have been
handmade and it looked like stone but I couldn’t touch to feel the texture. Some of the deities were together, two or three
in a casing and others were alone. All were decorated with bright colored flower lei’s and jewelry. The closer you moved to
the front of the room the casings and deities became larger, showing more significance (i.e. Ganesh was in his own
casing that was very large at the front of the room).
c) What was the focal point of the space?
The focal point of each space was the deity. They were dressed in colorful flowers and jewels. The light in each
casing was directly on top so that you may see each feature and detail of their faces and bodies.
d) What decorated the space? Why was it there?
Each deity was decorated with colorful flower lei’s and jewelry. I think they were decorated as a sign of praise or
respect. I noticed that some deities had coins laid around them and others did not. Food lay before some of their casings.
e) Did the space reflect functionality? If so, how?
The spaces between each deity was functional in the sense that as I walked into the building they were lined up
along each side of the walls and as you got closer to the front the larger the deities became. As if they pay tribute to all the
gods/goddesses but the ones that they mainly worship were more significant.
2) Ritual observations: What took place?
I asked one of the guests what was going on and he advised that it was a wedding ritual. There was food up at the front
as offering from the bride’s family to the grooms. It wasn’t a ritual between people but deities. The deities were dressed up
and carried to the front of the altar where they were placed on each side of Vishnu while members took turn praying to
them.
a) Describe the elements of worship (liturgy).
Food covered the floor in one section as an offering, there seemed to be some form of prayer and then the priest
would sing a few words alone and then the congregation would do it all together. There was humming from
everyone and the ringing of a bell.
b) Did they have a specific purpose?
The food was an offering for the deities. As far as the prayer and singing I’m sure it had a specific purpose I just
am not sure what that purpose might be other than typical worship in church.
c) Who participated? (Was there clergy? A hierarchy?)
Everyone participated but participation varied. The priest(s) was one of the main participants, followed by some
men who carried the deities to the front to set them next to Vishnu. And the rest participated (even children) by
singing, praying and humming along when necessary.
d) What seemed to be the benefit of these rituals?
I would say the benefits were tradition and spirituality. In the traditional sense everyone knew what to do and
when as if they had done this specific ritual regularly. Spiritual because there was a feeling of peace and beauty to watch
this play out and how important it was to each of them. It was interesting to see because a few times it looked as if some
people weren’t sure where they were supposed to be and would hurry to get to their position and help move things out of
the way but they just kept going with the ritual like nothing was an issue.
3) Emotional observations: What was the mood?
a) Did the physical space enhance or distract from the emotional/spiritual experience?
This was the first time that I have ever been in a temple such as this so I was distracted; wanting to look around,
talk to as many people as possible and exam each deity (face, expressions, etc.) in detail. I think for everyone else the
space probably enhances their experience since they are surrounded by the most important things to them: religion,
tradition and family.
b) What were the attitudes of the participants? (fear, awe, love, hope, union, boredom, excitement,
passion etc.)
Peace is the first thing that I sensed especially when I would watch families or individuals sitting on the floor, eyes
closed and humming along. They were smiling and some even put hands above their head. Love for each other, the
deities and the space itself. Respect from adults and children. When some of the children were running around or making
too much noise an adult would ask them kindly to sit and be quiet.
c) What does this tell you about their ideas toward worship?
Worship is important to them. They respect it and the temple is obviously a place where they may come and
rejuvenate and reconnect with themselves and others. The entire congregation participated with a smile, paid attention
and seemed to generally enjoy the practices.
d) What did you learn about this religion’s relationship to non-members?
Honestly they didn’t care that we were there. Everyone was accepting, and a few members advised me what was
happening and they didn’t seemed bothered. They may have even been excited to be able to share their religion and what
actually happens within in the temple with strangers.

POST OBSERVATION: REFLECT ON YOUR EXPERIENCE

1) Reaction: What were your expectations and were they met?


I didn’t really have any expectations because I have never taken the opportunity to scope out other religious
places. I was excited about going so I tried to go in with an open mind and I was not disappointed. I had a great
time and it is an experience that I will have forever.

2) Reflection: Making connections.


a) Were the beliefs and the worldview of the religion present in the physical observations? How? Where?
Yes, they were present with how the deities were set up and dressed, in how the members dressed and how they
paid their respects to each other and each deity they would visit.
b) Were the beliefs and the worldview of the religion represented in the rituals and symbols? How? Why?
Yes, they were present with how the member set food and coins next to the deities they prayed too, putting the
bindi on their foreheads, bowing their heads, humming and even sitting on the ground.

 c) Were the beliefs and the worldview of the religion felt and/or observed in the emotional observations?
How?
Yes, some members were actively watching the ceremony as others made their way around the room to visit
each of the deities and say a little prayer in front of them. Others had their eyes closed and even a few would put their
hands above their heads as they chanted with the priest.