As I stood on a bridge in Haridwar that crossed a portion of the Ganges River. I was peering down into the river and saw a naked child being handed from his father to his mother. The mother then took the resisting child and dunked him under the water 4 times. Still screaming the child was thrown back to the father to be dried. The mother then started splashing water all over her fully clothed self.
She was not the only woman to do this. Every morning and evening in the Holy City of Haridwar they have a fire ceremony where they bath in the Ganges River. This river is considered a god.
My team and I saw many people stripping down to just their under garments and going into the water. Others were just splashing it on themselves. We walked through this ceremony. We noticed that some people just seemed to do it out of mere religious ritual and others did it out of a passion with a true devotion to this god.
I watched a old man (who was in under garments) bathing in this river. He seemed to be praying as he gently scooping up water and poured it over his head and face. He seemed at peace as he did this. He had his eyes closed and continued to pray as he scrubbed his arms. As he left the water up the steps he kissed his right hand and then placed it on the step. He loved this god. He served this god.
After the ceremony, we took a cable car up to a few Hindu temples.
But there was some that brought their own hand picked flowers to give to the gods and goddesses. These people appeared to be more devoted than the ones that bought it as they were walking in. When we walked through it was hard to find your footing. People were everywhere. At every shrine a different colored dot was put on their forehead. There was people that had one for a specific god or goddess they served and there were others that had like 4 or 6.
When my team left these temples we talked about our observations. One a the girls said that it seemed like a “conveyer belt” worship. With that some of us mentioned how as Christians we can revert to that same attitude of just going through the motions and not actually meaning anything we do. Just waking up going to church, singing songs, going home, going to work, and then doing it all over again.
Am I as devoted to God (the true God) as these people are to their gods and goddesses?
Would I be willing to bath in a freezing cold polluted river if God told me to? Without complaint?
Will these people ever know the truth? How would they take it?