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Rachel Clark

Religion in Contemporary Life at Dharmaram College, Bangalore, India

""I spent 10 weeks travelling and studying in India during the summer of 2003 and it was an amazing experience. Myself and three other girls taking the course had done the necessary preparation months before we were due to leave London for Delhi. We planned the trip to enable us to study at Dharmaram College in Bangalore and travel both before and after the course for seven weeks in total.

My first impressions of India were of busy train stations, noisy roads, wandering cows and more people than there was space! But India was also a sacred place, rich in religious and cultural diversity, friendly people and stunning places to visit. The vast landscape of India makes it so appealing as there is something for everyone. During our travels we visited the beautiful Taj Mahal in Agra , the beaches of Goa and the backwaters of Kerela. ""The cosmopolitan cities of Mumbai and Bangalore combined the modern with the ancient, while the sacred city of Varanasi on the Ganges captured the essence of India for me. Experiencing such variation in one country and one trip enabled me to appreciate how distinct India is and how much variation there is in food, local languages and scenery.

The course at the Dharmaram College combined the theoretical with the practical as lectures on a variety of religions and aspects of Indian culture were complemented by numerous visits to various temples and communities giving us the opportunity to interact first hand with Jain monastics, Tibetan monks and nuns, Parsi and Sikh communities as well as the local Hindu community. Spending time with the people, eating with them or participating in their religious services was a humbling experience allowing me to gain a greater understanding of religion in modern India. Lectures were given by esteemed academics on various subjects including the Bhagavad Gita, Indian women, yoga theory, Christianity in India and Indian dance.

""The experience of travelling around India and taking the course was exciting but it was also humbling and at times distressing to see people or animals like you wouldn't see here. But the positives India has to offer do outweigh the negatives as it did impact on my senses and emotions that I never thought possible. I will never forget my travelling experience from north India to the south and back up again and the many memories of exciting times and fun we had. One cannot really put into words how interesting and amazing India is as a country, a people, a culture and society but to really appreciate it you must go there!

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