South Indian Temple Cafeteria and Gift Shop

After we finished praying, Satya and I decided to explore the lower levels of the temple.  We found that there was a small cafeteria that offered vegetarian South Indian food (uttapam, dosa, vada, etc.) at very affordable prices.  We tried the uttapam (kind of like a pancake made out of a batter of fermented rice and beans).  Mine was with onions and Satya’s had onions and chilis.  His was so spicy he got teary!  There were some chutneys and sambar (spicy soup) to go with them.  The meal was delicious! We both agreed that the uttapam was better than any we had at restaurants and better than our own efforts at home.  The cafeteria makes a lot of sense because people come from long distances to go to the temple.  Also, traditionally, temples do offer food.  The cafeteria was staffed by volunteers and in itself is very bare bones-seating is on plastic picnic benches, paper plates, Styrofoam cups for tea, etc.  We saw many families and even another mixed couple although we didn’t visit with anyone.  I think we will definitely be eating at the temple cafeteria again because of the affordable prices and delicious food. 


The gift shop was interesting too.  The gift shop had an extensive cd collection ranging from morning Hindu prayers in Sanskrit, to cds for a healthy pregnancy and baby, to yoga cds.  There was also a selection of Tamil and Telegu cds.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any Kannada cds.  What else?  There was a selection of books on spiritual topics and some very introductory Hinduism books.  One thing that surprises me is how pragmatic Hinduism is.  For example, Hinduism places a large emphasis on health-both physical and mental and what they say actually works (for me, anyway).   I don’t recall Catholicism having anything to say about stress relief, although many Catholics were and are very involved in healthcare.  Another way it is pragmatic is how it embraces a lot from other religions.  It seems like it tries to embrace whatever is good or makes sense from other religions.  For example, there was a series of books on the usual spiritual topics like “love”, “death”, “inner peace”.  Those books have chapters written by people from a variety of religions-the love one included Muslim and Catholic writers. 


There was a small selection of idols and some idols that can even be put in the car (Satya decided against those because he was afraid that the idol would become unstuck, fall to the car floor and thus be an insult to the god).  Those aren’t really so different from the statues or amulets that Catholics sometimes have in their cars.  Satya was happy to discover that the gift shop also had the same comic books that he read as a child.  The comic books are about different gods, goddesses, and Hindu myths.  We bought three.  Those comic books will be a later blog post. 


Overall, I thought the temple was a fascinating place.  I think it merges the spiritual with the practical very well.  I like how modern life is incorporated-for example, you can go to the temple and get a “car puja”.  I liked the peace of the temple.  I don’t know yet how much Hinduism I will incorporate into my own beliefs.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Archie
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 01:24:55

    I am fascinated by your search. We all live eternal. Some like their eternal resting place. Others find the experience less than fulfilling. Hope you find a place that will exceed your expectations.


  2. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:35:01

    Hi Archie,


    Hope to hear from you again.


  3. Evenshine
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 15:39:48

    Interesting post. It’s funny how some traditions (I’m thinking mainly Christian and Jewish) would shun this kind of commercialism within the church grounds, but are fine with a separate bookstore or shop, while others, like your post, have a one-stop-shop on the premises!


  4. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 18:02:49

    Hi Evenshine,

    True, it might seem a bit weird at first, but it makes sense in other Catholic church at home lets people buy poinsettias for the Church at Christmastime in honor of deceased relatives–the deceased relative’s name is then written on the bulletin. At other churches mainly Catholic or Greek Orthodox you can light a candle for your prayers. There is a donation box to take your coins for that. Other churches do have full blown gift shops–I’m thinking St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and some larger Catholic churches and some in Greece.

    I don’t know about the Jewish faith.

    The cafeteria might strike some as strange too, but a lot of churches have pancake breakfasts.

    Where the line is where it crosses into blatant commercialism is, I’m not so sure. Any opinions?


  5. Quizman
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 21:30:22

    If your husband loves the comic books of his childhood, he will love these sites

    Am posting in case there are any other comic book lovers out there.


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