Megan Project 2 – Paola Rivera

Screenshot 2015-10-26 at 2.46.15 PMI chose this image because it obviously holds a deeper religious meaning. The image of the Buddha is an important and prevalent image used in Buddhism. The person who chose to decorate the area with this little figurine might have been attempting to sanctify the area or might have just wanted to acknowledge their religion through this depiction. Another possibility is the secular usage of religious symbols. The person who chose to place the Buddha here may have just done so for decorative purposes. Regardless of the reason, the Buddha is a very important religious symbol to a very large group of people.

Journal Site Visit – Paola Rivera

For my Site Visit project I decided to visit the Shiva Vishnu Temple of South Florida. Initially, I called ahead to ask if the temple was open to the public and what days I could go and have a look. Immediately I noticed that the administration was very organized, willing to help, and overall warm and caring people. They gave me the hours that the temple was opened and a few requirements I had to follow. It was very easy to enter the temple even though I was a bit nervous, however, that feeling went away quickly. Upon arriving I met with a Secretary of the temple and he welcomed me. The temple itself was beautiful; it had many intricate architectural designs and many statues that were called murti acknowledging different Hindu deities. I learned that the temple was dedicated to Vishnu, the protector of creation,  and Shiva, the destroyer of the world. It surprised me how two very different deities, almost contradicting, could be worshiped in the same temple. Yet, I found it very intriguing to learn about the different deities and how each symbolize a specific role.

During my visit at the Shiva Vishnu Temple, I did not stay to witness any rituals. Yet, from the very beginning I felt very welcomed and secure at the temple and throughout the tour I felt very comfortable and respected. Management made it clear that regardless of one’s faith, everyone is encouraged to visit the temple.

When I initially had called ahead, I was told of the requirements I needed to fulfill before entering the Shiva Vishnu Temple; all of which encompassed the proper wardrobe and expected behavior. I was told to dress modestly; no shorts, jeans, or revealing tops were allowed. Eating and drinking was prohibited in the temple. I was told not to touch the deities and to not disturb the peace of the temple by being overly loud. And, of course, I must have my phone on silent before entering the temple. The rules were all pretty standard and fair and very easy to follow; I was also happy to oblige and respect their culture. One rule that I was not warned about and that did catch me off guard  was that when I entered the temple each individual is expected to remove their shoes. The temple is sacred ground, and shoes are considered profane because they contain impurities, so as a sign of respect to the temple,  visitors and worshipers will remove their shoes before taking a step into the sacred space. The members of the religion were very eager to allow me into their space and to attempt to teach me more about their faith, deities, and rituals. They were very willing to talk to me and showed very little skepticism. I feel my only obstacle during my visit was my ignorance. I wish that I was more knowledgeable about Hinduism faith and practice before I had went to visit; I believe I would’ve enjoyed my experience more had I done more research on Hinduism beforehand.

My visit to the Shiva Vishnu Temple was truly an experience I will not forget simply because it was very enriching and interesting. The history and beliefs of Hinduism is very vibrant and dynamic. Although my family actively practices Catholicism, I personally enjoyed my visit to the temple more than I had before at any church. The people I have met in the Shiva Vishnu Temple are very  warm, welcoming, and passionate. They have a very deep understanding of their culture and are very proud of their past. Being part of the temple, even for a short while, was very influential. I have learned that respect is a very valued trait in Hinduism and it is always given to those that return it. I may even return with other family members to share this experience with them.

Megan Project 1 – Paola Rivera

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Last winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Italy with my mother and sister. While we were staying at Rome we would frequently pass this beautiful bridge and I couldn’t help but take a photo of it to use in my AP Photography class. I think part of the reason why this bridge is so special to Rome is because it is one of the bridges that lead to the Vatican. Along the bridge there are statues of angels on both sides; this is my religious symbol. These statues can be interpreted as guardians of the bridge and may give a sense of safety to onlookers because the symbol of angels is very reassuring and powerful. Also one may interpret this as the bridge or the link of the profane (the city of Rome) to the Sacred (the Vatican City). Regardless of what one may perceive upon looking at the bridge and the individual statues, I feel that it is very spiritual and holy.