Gurudwara Riverside, California - Open door & hearts on my overnight stay traveling 10 HWY /Gurdwara

Uploaded 26 Feb 2013
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© Etan Doronne
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

Today, while doing my monthly load of laundry, this bandanna brought up a memory. It has been around 3 years since.

While driving to or from Arizona or Californian deserts to Los Angeles I found my self totally tiered and unable to complete the journey in one day. The night was well on its way and I could use a place to stretch and sleep.

In those days I used to get some sleep in rest areas but some had closed down during the recession years and on that stretch of the highway there was none.

I looked up Gurudwaras, the Sikh (Punjabi) temples and gave a call to one in Riverside.

In India it is known that Gurudwaras have an open door tradition and travelers/pilgrims can stay for a few days provided with food and a bath. All is part of exercising giving, helping, sharing by the religion's teachings. (Hindu have this costume too at their temples and the housing section there is called Dharamsala).

However, in California it seemed they don't get a lot of visitors, especially not non-Sikh. The voice on the other side of the phone sounded a bit hesitant and inquired just a bit more then would happen in India.

I later learned that in the past some drug dealers used/abused the Gurudwara to hide from the law and the community became more wary.

I eventually reached the Gurudwara and was offered a shower, food and then was shown to the room I shared with others who were all Sikh.

The next day I stayed for the morning prayer (Gurbani) which was new to me and later helped with some maintenance cleaning.

One friendly resident/volunteer also told me more about the history of the Sikh people and scriptures.

A few months later I stayed at the Fremont Gurdwara on my way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Again - a warm and embracing welcoming. Myself along with the Gurdwara volunteers and guests all slept on the dinning hall's carpet to the 'Waheguru' chanting that played all through the night. Waking up the next morning I was surprised how fresh I felt despite the nightlong soundtrack.

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Here's my first Bhangra tailgate party and first Punjabi Sikh warm hug (Himachal Pradesh, India): http://jpgmag.com/photos/3403841.

My India: Where every village is home

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Gurudwara/Gurdwara Riverside, California - Open door & hearts, my overnight traveling the 10 HWY

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Sikh Turban - Pagri, Pagadi ਪਗੜੀ. Sikh bandana - Rumal / Rumala. Boys headgear - Patka.

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