Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Batu Caves

I love to get out and explore new places. Thankfully, I just moved to a new country, so there is ample opportunity for such things. A few weeks ago, two of my co-workers and I took a Saturday to visit the Batu Caves.

Going into the trip, just about all I knew was that these were formerly giant limestone deposits and had since been turned into a world-renowned Hindu temple... and that there were vicious monkeys. :) The caves are only about an hour away by train, so we left about 9 and got there before the weather got too hot. This was good news because in order to enter the cave, there are 272 stairs to climb. I'm pretty out of shape. It was not fun. But, we just pushed through it without stopping because we knew that would only make it worse. Needless to say, my calves were on fire when we reached the top. That is, until I looked around and saw women three times my age making the climb, and guys wearing huge headdresses practically sprinting up the steps, and people with serious health issues crawling up the stairs. Then I realized I had no right complaining. :)

The caves themselves were actually sort of anti-climactic. I guess? I don't really know what I was expecting, but apparently it wasn't that. :) They were just really tall caves? We did see some monkeys. Lots of monkeys, actually. They did not try to steal anything from us, but we also made sure to keep our distance! As we were getting ready to leave the caves, we heard some really loud chanting and saw a processional of men performing some sort of ritual or initiation that ended at the area to offer sacrifices. We kept saying we wished we had done more research or had a tour guide so we could have some idea what was going on, but we didn't, so we just had to make up our own versions. :)

They weren't even "spelunking with a headlamp" type caves! Haha.
Part of the ritual we observed. Imagine lots of loud chanting and crazy amounts of emotion.
We were definitely ready to run.
There were so many baby monkeys around. But, don't let their adorableness deceive you. We still kept our distance.
We took the long way around to get back to the train. To do so, we walked through a street market at the base of the caves/temple. Loud music, dirty, smelly, trash all around, people trying to sell cheap goods for a way inflated price... all I could think about was Mark 11:15-18. The story of Jesus clearing the Temple. Granted, the Batu Caves are not a house of The Lord by any means. Actually, quite the contrary, there was a very dark and evil feel to the whole place. The looks on people's faces were just empty and painful. We mentioned multiple times to each other that we just wanted to go up to all the people who were inflicting self-harm on themselves or doing other painful sacrifices and shout to them, "Jesus already died for you!" or other such remarks. We didn't. But we did pray... a lot.
Anyway, I digress. Through this experience, it was so clear to see why Jesus reacted the way he did at the temple. Turning something so holy into something so gross and wordly and a "den of thieves." It's hard to even explain the feeling, but it was definitely eye-opening. I said that before any pastor tried to tackle a sermon about that passage, they should definitely visit the caves!

Only one small alley of the rather extensive market directly at the bottom of the caves.

During our Bible lesson at school the other day, we talked about this story. I think it's so important for us to remember and children to learn that getting angry is not the sin. It even says over and over again in the Bible, that we should "be slow to anger" and "the Lord is slow to anger". It doesn't say "don't ever get angry." It goes on to say, though, "In your anger, do not sin," (Eph 4:26) which is what I tried to stress to my students. We need our motives to be right, our anger to be justified, and our responses to be appropriate. Perk of being a teacher, learning from your own lessons. :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow spooky! I didn't realize Hinduism had rituals like that.