INDIA EXPERIENCE: Realization of a dream
Monday, July 16, 2001
"Kerala has so much to offer from beautiful backwaters to a rich cultural heritage. After a relaxing weekend at Lake Kumarakom, the students had another opportunity to listen to a lecture by Dr. Gopalakrishnan. He lectured about Indian customs, traditions and rituals. We had a fruitful question and answer period.
The lecture was again held in the 300 year old Kerala model house. Dr. Gopalakrishnan taught us about the customs which date back to 8750 BC. The customs have five purposes: - psychological health, physiological and physical health, family ties, social bonds and national integration. Spirituality and religion in India are not practiced only to "get to heaven." Dr. Gopalakrishnan explained some of the Temple practices, such as the custom of not entering the temple after a death or birth in the family. This might have been because when one experiences a death in the family, they feel a lot of pain. With a birth in the family, it makes sense that the family should stay home with the newborn. Dr. Gopalakrishnan also stated that North India is very different from South India. North India emphasizes knowledge and is more relaxed with the customs, while South India emphasizes action and customs. The class also had a discussion regarding the status of women in India.
After our lecture, we had a lunch of pizza, just for a change. We had American food after fourteen days. We then visited a bookstore and the University library for research. We were all able to find materials for our focus subject. Afterwards we went to a beautiful store named S M S Institute to find souvenirs. Later we visited a Government of India bookstore and several of us bought books.
Next four days we will be visiting colleges and attending classes with local students.
"Dr. Gopalakrishnan's lecture helped answer and clarify some common misconceptions the West has about Hindu traditions. The University library that we visited contained information that I could never find in the States."
"Today we concluded our two part session with Dr. Gopalakrishnan. His words of wisdom have helped us understand this new world and us."
"It's been two weeks since we've left home and many worlds we've seen. Each day brings a new perspective on life which betters itself each day."
Jarrod D Gray
"Listened to Dr. Gopalakrishnan's lecture. His wealth of knowledge was boundless. he was very open to answer all our questions. He addressed a lot of the issues that made the Indian culture unique but are repulsive to many in the Western hemisphere. He talked about the changes taking place in India's culture and traditions due to education and other influences."
"I enjoyed the lecture on Indian customs. It is interesting how science is present in so many. Like taking time to sit up in bed before you get out of bed. Letting your blood flow through your body reducing the chances of a heart attack. "
"I love Indian Pizza. I think everyone was in shopping heaven yesterday at the S M S Institute."
"Dr. Gopalakrishnan is the most insightful man I have met so far in India. I was happy Gretchen got her fried onion balls. I purchased a pile of exotic and informative books for less than 3 dollars."
Sarah M Gallop
"We had Pizza that was very good. It was a little spicy, but it was a nice treat."
" Dr. Nair is so nice, because I wanted some fried onion balls for a snack and he made sure that I got them."
All of the students were very tired. So we were awakened with some very good shopping."
"After a relaxing weekend, we were refreshed and eager to learn. Dr. Gopalakrishnan was very knowledgeable and informative of Indian customs. Visiting the library was interesting as well."
Kathleen M Jelen
"I learned much about the theories of the Hindu lifestyle."
"My Indian friends at the University spoke to me about their frustrations and feelings of societal repression. Many of them think that the rich Kerala tradition holds them back in so many ways."
"I started learning the Game of Cricket yesterday. "
"The lecture was good, but I was very tired and the room was dark and hot. I found it difficult to stay focussed."
"The pizza was a special treat, I think everyone really enjoyed it. Shopping was fun, I found many souvenirs for my brother."
"Dr. Gopalakrishnan's lecture was excellent. He explained clearly customs and rituals, how wholeness of individual in all tied to these customs and rituals."
"Library and bookstore visit was interesting."
"Shopping !! Beautiful. Hand made bed specials, silks and carvings. Sales people are very helpful and staff asking questions about United States. Nice time shopping."
"Dr. Gopalakrishnan is a very educated and learned man. He explained Indian customs and their culture in a way that was both educational and interesting."
"After attending the Hindu wedding on Friday, I was confused about why the bride and the groom touched the feet of the elder men, why candles were lit, and why the bride and groom exchanged garland. Dr. Gopalakrishnan explained why they did these things and the history behind it."
"Dr. Nair ordered garden pizza for us which was very delicious, but I've become accustomed to eating some Indian cuisine that I don't miss American food much. I guess he ordered them for the people who are more homesick than others.
to the Photo Session
British Council & S M S Institute
2. Host families
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