As we hopped out of the cab, here is our first view of the entrance to the temple.
As we walked toward the entrance I smiled when I saw this basketball hoop in the parking lot. Apparantly, basketball is universal!
There were little gift shops on either side and a lady approaching everyone with what looked at first to me like a bamboo umbrella, but she was actually selling packs of incense. Here are some of the wares in the shop.
We bought our entrance tickets and were grateful for the fact that it wasn't raining.
This lion was guarding the entrance.
So once we entered the temple, I am not sure what I was expecting -- but it wasn't what was there. My understanding was that since China is communist and doesn't support any religion was that these temples that remain were purely historical sites not practicing religious locations. But this one was clearly a practicing religious site. The patrons would light their incense at a basin . . .
And then they would start a ritual that I truly didn't understand. They bowed. The held the incense above their head. They kneeled. They kissed the ground. I do not know to what they were praying or to what end they were doing it. There was no placard to explain things and I watched and watched.
The temple grounds were very big and as you walked further into the property there was more of the same thing happening at different locations.
As we got considerably into the temple, there was this large sandalwood carved statue. I'm truly not sure who it is or what it represents. But it was impressive.
Here was my favorite sign there --
Here was one of the first children we saw in Beijing (excluding those on the back of bikes!)
The workers use hand made straw brooms to sweep up and maintain the temple.
And as we left, I snapped a picture of the incense sticks for sale.
The Lama Temple was interesting. I have a lot of reading I want to do to just even figure out what they were doing. By and large I believe they were burning and offering incencse to these figures in the hopes of prosperity and peace. What was overwhelming though to notice was how unhappy . . . or maybe ?? I don't know tired and worn out all the participants were. Maybe it was those who were in a desperate place coming to the temple I don't know, but it was a rather somber and depressing scene. It seemed that even though they were doing this they felt inside that it was futile. Perhaps I am judging too harshly, but the people were not happy or looking like they were feeling peaceful at all.