Sikhing spiritual enlightenment

Amiritsar in the Punjab region is the spiritual home to the Sikh faith, a recent religion created from a bit of Hindu and a bit of Islam. The religion has lots of nice bits like equality for all, belief in an honest days work, no idol worshipping and generally being at peace (not too sure where the Sikh warriors with big knives fit into all that…). The Golden Temple is the holy site for Sikhs, a temple set in a lake and and covered in 750kg of gold. There was an awfully long queue on the pilgrims bridge to the temple, and we weren’t sure if we were actually allowed to get that close, so we made do with walking around the edge of the lake wearing our orange head covers whilst Sikhs bathed in the holy lake. The Sikhs have been a persecuted bunch, from being gunned down by the British for a peaceful protest during the Indian fight for independence to their own government bombing their temple in 1984, killing quite a few Sikhs. They did have vengeance though; the Prime Minister who ordered the attack happened to have two Sikh bodyguards who murdered her as a result (you’d think she would have seen that one coming…).
The heat was really getting to us, and along with most of the other westerners in Amiritsar, we found refuge in a the only air-con restaurant in town. There was just enough time to squeeze in a trip to the gaudy Hindu Mata temple, complete with a bizarre fairground haunted-house type walk, crawl and wade past various Hindu icons.
We were then off to the India-Pakistan border to see the closing of the gates ceremony. There were parties on both sides of the gate, as if each was trying to prove they were the more fun place to be, and as it got going the crowds from each side shouted slogans and made us wonder if there was going to be a riot (of which the Indians seem to have quite a lot…). Closing time came, and with a lot of guard’s feet stamping, leg shaking and shenanigans that could have inspired the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks, the two countries exchanged dirty looks and slammed the gates to nearly off their hinges.