I am not a religious person, but our visit to the Shiva temple on Old Airport Road, Bangalore was quite the experience. And I had a lot of fun!
|Taking part in a spiritual activity
The chant means 'adoration to Shiva' and is one of the most important mantras in Shaivism - part of Hinduism that particularly follows and praises one of the Hindu gods, Shiva.
On entry, you can buy offerings to the gods as well as a 'full package' ticket, which allows you to take part in all of the different rituals in the temple. We went for the 'full package', but decided against the offerings.
Out in the main temple area, you get your first glance of the 20 metre tall Shiva statue, that devotees come to see and touch to get their problems solved, before starting to engage in the temple's rituals.
The first spiritual activity that we undertook inside the temple was the 108 Om Namah Shivaya coins.
We were given a small tub of coins and had to put one in each of the holy bowls, while chanting, Om Namah Shivaya. I think we were supposed to clear our thoughts, but I got myself a bit confused when I stopped to take a photo of James and then couldn't remember which bowl I had last put a coin in.
|'Om Namah Shivaya'
Next we tied our saffron coloured thread near the Lord Ganesha statue to ask him to look after our problems and went through another grotto-like tunnel, which was adorned with statues and explanations of who each of them were. We came back out into the main temple area, where we were invited to pour coconut milk on the sacred 'Shiv Linga' - a phallic looking stone carving, which is used in temples as a representation of Shiva.
|Cleansing the linga
Our friend Mike, who were visiting in India later mentioned to us that the linga generally had female looking bits as well as its much more obvious male bit. I couldn't possibly comment.
|Throwing the miracle coin
|Our two candles are the two closest ones
The other rituals we took part in included throwing a miracle coin into the pond, lighting a candle and floating it in the pond and burning offerings into a 'Havan' to burn away negativity.
|Offerings to be burnt in the 'Havan'
One of the very last things we did at the temple was to hug a concrete post and ring a bell. I really can't remember what this bit was for and I couldn't find anything about it on the internet, so I'm wondering if the lady at the temple was having a joke on us by making us do it!
|Hugging a post!
We, however, didn't stick around for too long and were given our bindis, before heading out.
Getting out was a bit of an 'exit through the gift shop' moment, as you have to go out through a market. Not in a shopping mood, we chanted Om Namah Shivaya and walked on through!
The temple is at 97 Old Airport Road, behind the Kemp Fort Mall.
We paid 150 rupees (around £1.50/ $2) each for entry and the 'full package' of spiritual activities. We also paid 25 rupees (25p or 40c) to use our camera inside the temple.
Click here for more information about the temple.
Click here to see more about our time in Bangalore.