Retreat Report By
   Thaesan Yokeswaran

Both of these temples are run by Buddhist and Hindus but it can also be called a Mandir. For Hindus, there are pujas and rituals held during weekly services and meditation workshops for Buddhist followers and visitors as well. The people who lead the worship in the temples are the pandits and the monks. They both are in charge of the temple activity in order to get the devotees to follow along. Worship in a hindu temple consists of a more spiritual connection towards God. Offerings of prayer, food, water, milk, and flowers are given/said to the deities. It is required to take off your shoes as a sign of respect. Women must dress up modestly and can't be revealing with their attire. It is also encouraged to bathe before entering a temple. Monks often meditate with followers to become enlightened. Their mission is to achieve this state and help their community become a more friendly one.        

Since I am a Hindu, I can't really say what is similar or different than my own religious affiliation. Buddhism on the other hand is similar as there is vegetarianism, meditation, moksha/nirvana and chanting of mantras. Differences may be the language used (Sanskrit), or the way the monks, Pandits, and devotees dress up.

What I personally found quite interesting is how the Buddhist temple was so calm and full of emptiness. I was fond of how the monk was able to maintain himself in such a relaxed manner. The monk also said that a normal human being can become a god if they reach nirvana and how their physical body can change appearance once this happens. The mandir was bigger than expected and I was surprised at how the structure was able to hold itself with only stone. I learned how meditation can be quite useful as a way to relive daily stress. It allows for a person to let go of their doubts and fears. I also learned during the tour in the Hindu museum that zero was first used by Hindus. There were also other facts about medicine and many certificates showing they've donated to Sick Kids. Lots of knowledge was displayed on the walls as well as stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Symbols from Buddhism and Hinduism are fairly similar. The Lotus flower signifies purity and fertility. Aum represents the following:

  • The three major Hindu gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva
  • The three sacred Vedic scriptures - Rig, Yajur, and Sama
  • The past, present, and future

The swastika symbolises luck and prosperity in Hinduism while in Buddhism it represents resignation. The Dharmachakra is an essential symbol in Buddhism and is known as the "wheel of law". It is a representation of the teachings of Buddha.

"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful" (Udana-Varga 5:18).

“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.”(Mahabharata)

Both of these golden rules are basically stating that you must treat others the way you want to be treated. With the Hinduism rule, it says that this is duty. Duty can be referred to as dharma and it's the way for a Hindu to live a righteous life.


What I liked about the retreat is that the people were welcoming to start with. Both temples were able to communicate the various aspects of their religions and the workshop/exhibition was splendid. The video presentation didn't bore me to sleep while the meditating was quite honestly a bit of relief. I don't have no complaints whatsoever as it was a privilege for us to even come to these religious places. I enjoyed the retreat as much as I can and gained a valuable insight of what it means to be a Buddhist, Hindu, or a Jew.

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