By: Popoai Tanuvasa-Lole
India has a number of massive & vibrant temples. As part of our Sustainable Development practicum, we visited Chidambaram Temple. According to our tour guide, Chidambaram Nataraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Nataraja, a form of Shiva. There are ancient roots behind this temple located in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India. Further research revealed that the city’s name means “stage of consciousness”.
Temples in south India were not just places of worship; they played a vital role in community life, discussing social, religious, and political issues of importance. These structures also served as training grounds for performing arts such as dance, music, and drama. In addition, temples were attached to educational institutions, where students learned about religion and spiritual life.
When you enter Chidambaram Temple, you are asked to remove your shoes and put your camera and phone away. That was the first indication to me that I was entering a sacred space. Nothing could have prepared me for the temple’s beautiful towers, artwork, and bodies of water. It was truly something that made you aware of how ancient and significant the location was.
There were many cows in the area, which is a sacred animal in Indian culture, as well as traditionally dressed priests. What I learned here is that priests are one of India’s highest castes, and tenants of the temple have been maintaining the space for centuries.I felt truly honored to be permitted into the space and to witness such an important part of Indian history.