Somehow this post slipped through the cracks. Consider it a little Deutsch Retrospektive.
Sadasivanathaswami and Senthilnathaswami stepped into Germany in the
big city of Berlin, greeted by long-time sishyas Kulapati
Veeragathiyar, Kulamata Puvanesam, their daughter Sivapprintha and her
daughter Gajanani, and our student Niraj Thaker, who had flown down
We took the afternoon off to explore Berlin on our own. The city's difficult history revealed itself to us when we realized at one point that we were walking on a permanently marked strip of ground that denotes the path of the infamous Berlin Wall. We didn't visit Checkpoint Charlie, where a section of the wall is permanently memorialized, but it was tempting. It just didn't seem necessary, we thought; "Let's leave the past in the past."
Saturday morning was filled with temple visits. First we were taken to the Sri Mayoorapathy Murugan Temple on Urbanstrasse. This small temple in the basement of an unassuming residential building is a center for the Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants in this city, most of whom came as refugees during the civil war in their country. It was powerful, due in large part to the young, inspired priest, who is a force goading the community forward in getting more solidly established in their new home.
They are now in the process of building a full size temple on a corner in a much nicer part of town. They took us there, and it was quite a sight to behold. After a tour of the inside, where the plaster has been finished on the shrines, awaiting painting in beautiful colors, we were taken to the roof where one group of shilpis was painting the vimanam and another was putting finishing touches on the plasterwork of the rajagopuram.
Next stop was the famous Ganesha Temple of Berlin. Surprised we were to find it in a hundred-year-old warehouse-style structure right next to the beautiful Hasenheide Volkspark.
The site had been given to the immigrant Indian community (not the Sri Lankan community, as we had thought) by the Mayor of Berlin. The elders shared with us their plans to build a formal temple, and then took us to the site, right next to the existing structure, which will later serve as a cultural hall. At their request we blessed the site (which has some beginning concrete foundations and pillars) for a swift manifestation of their shared dreams.
The park directly adjacent this temple makes it a very sweet location, surrounded by trees and open grass where the local folks enjoy relaxing on sunny summer afternoons.
Taking advantage of the hot summer days is actually something we saw all over the continent. Winter ended late here this year, only in April, and the spring was quite cold as well, so everyone is squeezing as much as they can out of the few summer months that are available before the weather cools once again. This is also an important time for agriculture, and in every country, driving or riding on trains through the countryside from city to city, village to village, we noticed that virtually every square meter is planted with one crop or another--happy crops, too. All the things you would expect in Europe: grapes, tomatoes, wheat, barley, vegetables of all kinds, and a hundred different things that were challenging to identify at the high speeds of the trains and the autobahn.
Our last activity in Berlin was a satsang with our kulamata and kulapati and their family and close, pious friends. It was a sweet time spent with long-time devotees who have not seen any of the monks since Gurudeva visited here last in August of 2001.
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