Friday, 27 August 2010

Southern Ghana Tour- Day III

16 August 2010
We were tired a bit and started bit late i.e. 9:00 am from Rahul's house in Agona Swedru and caught a bus for Accra. We got down at the Kokrobite junction which is on the outskirts of the Accra city. Kokrobite is a famous beach town near Accra and unfortunately it is becoming infamous for the robberies. No, we did not go to Kokrobite but instead we went to Bojo beach resort. It is a tip of the Kokrobite where a small river separates beach and the mainland. There is an entry fee to enter this part of the beach made secure by the Bojo Beach Resort. One has to cross the river first by the small boat and then enter on the beach. The beach is safe for swimming and one can keep his belongings safely near the bar and just chill out without any worries. We did just that.
While going to Cape Coast, we had noticed one Hindu temple before getting out of Accra city. We decided to stop at the temple before going back to our place of stay to see how Hindu temples in Accra are. But we were in for a surprise because it was not a traditional Indian Hindu temple but it was an African Hindu temple. It was all started when Swami Ghananand who is a native Ghanaian got something to read on Hinduism. He made his way to India and spent some time in Rishikesh where he found his spiritual master Swami Krishnanand. He returned to Ghana by determination to spread the message of Hinduism to Ghana and started the first ever African Hindu Monastery. Today it has five branches in West Africa in Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, Lomé (Togo) in addition to the one which we had visited in Accra.
When we reached there was one religious discourse going on. The swami was explaining some stories from Mahabharata (Ashwatthama to be specific) to his disciples. We had close interaction with one of the disciples named Vichara. His mother was the follower of Swami so he was brought up with Hindu way of life. After finishing his college, he decided to dedicate his life for the spread of the Hindu thought and there were very few people around to take up the responsibilities in Ashram. He is a Brahmacharin (i.e. Leading ascetic way of life).
We attended evening Aarati at the Ashram. I am not a religious person but still I liked the spiritual atmosphere and their disciplined way making prayers. They sang some Hindi bhajans and Sanskrit chants. Their distinct Ghanaian accent, the disciplined way of making rituals such as lighting the lamp and moving it around the idols and taking it to the devotees, the way they bowed to each other, everything was just amazing. They were using Harmonium and an African instrument during Aarati. Unlike the Indian Hindu temples, one woman was leading the group while singing the prayers and the others, all men included, were following it.
Many Indians in Accra visit this temple during some festivities. Ghana is a very tolerant country when it comes to the matter of religion but the major hurdle which the people of monastery face is when it comes to explanation of idol worship in Hinduism and the two major religions of Ghana, Christianity and Islam do not allow idol worship. Still many of the worshippers who come to the monastery live with more than one religions being practised in their families. e.g. Husband is a Christian, Wife is a Muslim but the son is following Hinduism. We met some children in the monastery and boys were named Ram, Krishna, Hari and the girl was named Sundar (beautiful).
We took a tro tro back to Accra and got down at Circle. From there we had decided to walk up to Adabraka where we were staying. It was already dark as the street lights were dim. While we were getting down a tro tro, a man on the bicycle came near to us from the wrong side. As Rose was closing the door of the tro tro he came near and lost his balance and bumped on a standing car. He was lucky enough not to get himself or his bicycle hurt. But then there was lot of distance between us and him and after that scene many people came on the scene. We decided to walk our way back when he came running after Rose and started to demand an apology from her as if having intention of quarrelling with her. She apologised for whatever happened and said sorry to him but he was talking loudly. We were lucky enough as people gathered around us and told us to go and told us that they will see what is to be done with him. We felt relieved and I felt as if I was in Mumbai where people just come for help when such instances happen on the street.
When we started walking, we found that the overall scene around circle was not as friendly as we had observed during the evenings. Some people were drunk, there were some quarrels between some people on the street, some people were running stray. We had to rush our way through to our place of stay. But still we managed to stop at one street side stall and take packs of omelets with bread and had a hot refreshing cup of Milo. Milo is a health drink made with malt and chocolate and it is similar to Bournvita sold in India.

@ Bojo Beach

Chilling Out

Outside African Hindu Monastery

With Brahmacharin Vichara

Evening Arati (Prayers)