Don’t be THAT tourist, Please!

This picture does not capture the beauty of the place!

On Sunday my husband daughter and I went to a beautiful Gurdwara in the El Sobrante Hills. We got off the freeway and turned onto a steep mountain road. We went up and up and up. The roads got narrower and more treacherous. Why is that always the case? A road can be flat and wide but then you add an incline and suddenly the maker of the road does not seem to think the lanes should hold a normal sized car! Well regardless, we went up and up and right when my husband started to doubt my ability to type in the right address into the GPS, we spotted the Gurdwara at the top of a huge hill. It is a beautiful Gurdwara with stunning views! It was well worth the upward climb!

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My sweet Girl

We went into the Gurdwara and paid our respects to the Guru Granth Sahib and prayed. The Gurdwara is really comfortable with many places to sit and relax and pray. There are several levels to the Gurdwara which made our time there feel like an adventure!  I very much enjoyed the tranquility of the space!

After Praying we went to the Langar hall to have a meal. As we sat down a group of people came walking in. They were loud and obnoxious. They obviously did not belong to the congregation and were tourists. I love cultural and religious exchanges but only when it is done respectfully! These people were not at all respectful.

In Sikhism all people are required to wear a cloth to cover their head. This is posted in signs everywhere in the Gurdwara. There was a women in the group who wore a sun hat! A sun hat is not a respectful way to cover ones head in the Gurdwara.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt, she may simply not understand. So I approached her and I mentioned to the women there were scarves for women as well. She responded in a loud obnoxious tone. ” Dont worry honey I wont be here long”. I was shocked! I had never seen anyone act so disrespectfully! The women then proceeded to take photos of people in the Gurdwara!

In the main hall with the Guru Granth Sahib ( Sikh Holy Book) both the man and the woman spread their legs out with their soles of their feet out which is greatly disrespectful. People paying respect to the Baba Ji cross their legs to show respect and modesty! The holy book is considered the living book of God! I have brought several non-Sikhs to Gurdwaras in the past and none of them ever did these things!

These people visiting the Gurdwara did not pay attention to their surroundings, do research, or show respect. They walked into a place of worship as if it were their personal backyard not caring at all for the customs or beliefs of other people. Please when visiting a place respect all the customs of these people. Take the time to do some research and pay attention to the people around you. Most importantly show Respect!

Dont be THAT tourist Please! 

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21 thoughts on “Don’t be THAT tourist, Please!

  1. They may not have known the customs. I know here in India I visit temples and some I don’t go into. On Sunday we were driving through Kerala and there were many beautiful churches. The driver stopped and told us to go.visit one and I said no. Mass was happening. The idea to go in and “see” the Church during worship was wrong to me… but not the driver or my husband.

    It is always good to ask customs when you visit a place or at least head respect to what others are doing. I would not have known that legs should be crossed at a Gurdwara. We visited one in Phoenix and they had.head.coverings at the doors. We were quiet and left afterward.

    • Yeah I agree during worship time is not the time to go have a look. I find praying to be such a personal thing having someone observe me is uncomfortable. We can only do our bests to follow all the customs and not offend, its the respect that matters most which those people did not have.

  2. Well the question is who invited them or did they come on their own and where were the gurudwara sahib’s commiteee people or the volunteer’s. ..
    It is sad when such people do these things .. this is what brings in the hostility towards each other..

  3. Like Bikramjit, I wonder why they were not asked to leave by the staff… I am glad you found a great place to worship but there are still so many people who – with the “best intentions” of course – go to ‘see’ other religions in practice like they would animals at the zoo. This sort of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and good for you for calling them out. This is why foreigners are barred from many Hindu temples in India. I know that Gurdwaras are open to everyone, but it is really sad when people take advantage of it.

    • Exactly people need to put aside their hubris and see other cultures and religions as equals. How would these same people feel if someone walked into their church talking loudly how “weird” it is that a virgin gave birth to their god… or snapped pictures of people in prayer….. its all about respect

  4. This is really awful! Sorry to hear that! Did anyone else say anything to the tourists?

    In Nepal, I experienced something like this. We went to Lumbini and were visiting the sacred temple of Lord Buddha’s birth place. Both M and I were deep in contemplation and praying as we walked around. The place ‘garden’ part of the temple was so tranquil and amazing… until a large group of Indian tourists came in and were shouting and yelling and generally being obnoxious. Hinduism and Buddhism are closely linked in Nepal so many Hindu’s worship Buddhist shrines freely, which they did. So it was a bit different to your situation. But they didn’t do it respectfully and posed every couple of seconds to take photos. It left M and I so frustrated and we left.

    So even people from the country next to us with similar religious beliefs can act like THAT tourist!

    Love reading your posts! Keep on posting 😀 xxx

  5. Omg… You know when ever i go to a new place esp religious ones that i am not used to… i always feel nervous that i might not hurt anyones religious sentiments in anyway. But These people seem so rude. That is such an unacceptable behaviour…

  6. I hate this sort of behaviour anywhere. Whether you are visiting places of worship, museums, archeological sites or anything else you should research the customs and behaviour and respect those. Some people really don’t have manners and they ruin it for everyone else. As the saying goes ‘When in Rome……’.

    • Yes people do this constantly. I spent some time in peru volunteering with an organization called traveler not tourist and it focuswd on mutual respect, admiration, and becoming one with the place and people. When people feel above the people or place it is when they take on those horrible traits of a tourist. Its all about respect and being truly open.

  7. It is a pity that, despite all the ways we have to get to know the customs and manners of other countries, there are people who are unable to show some kind of respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s not your culture, as long as you go to other’s environment, you have to behave they way they think it’s polite. Any grimace, gesture or movement can be misinterpreted or taken wrong. Whenever you go to a place with a different way of living you should fuse to their culture and not try to show off yours. That’s the lesson I took from my last month trip to India.

  8. Sadly this happens in my church as well. People talk like they are outside at a park. I read the announcements at the beginning of Mass and its so distracting to have people talking full volume as it IS a place of worship! No one has respect anymore. 😦

  9. I went to a Sikh wedding once quite a few years ago with a number of work colleagues. Once young woman from my office sat for most of the ceremony against the side wall with her legs stretched out completely with the soles of her feet in view of everyone. Although I am not a Sikh I am fully aware of the correct way to sit in a Sikh Gurdwara and not to sit with my legs out showing my feet.

    • I think its always best to observe others and to do how everyone else is doing it, one if my biggest fears is offending someones culture. Its good that you sat correctly it showed grest respect.

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