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Day 5

The Real India

Chris has explored India's slums and villages, met incredible people, and traveled many miles. But has he seen the "real India" yet?

He will today! Join Chris for a fun-filled day of exploring that will change the way you look at India forever.

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Chris' Journal

India: Day Five

Today was an eye-opening day! I went shopping, got my very first kurta, and experienced the "real" India.

I even took a ride on a bicycle rickshaw - a vehicle where someone pedals the bike and I ride in the carriage in the back. I felt really sorry for the guy driving, because, as you can see...I'm not all that small. I actually broke the little metal step getting into the thing! Sheesh!

I was able to shop in the bazaar and buy some groceries from the market. To shop like Indians shop was exciting!

But I will say this - shopping in India makes me appreciate what I have in America: clean produce, clean aisles, and no worries about poor quality food. In India, I couldn't be assured of any of that. It really makes me thankful.

I saw other things about the "real" India that troubled me. Everywhere I went, I was face-to-face with extreme poverty. Entire families were living on the sidewalks - I saw moms washing clothes and kids getting ready for school. This is normal life for them.

And the Hindu devotion to idols was obvious everywhere.

Hindus don't just worship their gods in big temples - sometimes a shrine is under a random tree or even in the middle of the street! Everyone just drives around it.

I can tell India's people are searching, looking for truth. But until they know Jesus, they haven't found it...

I can't shake the feeling of how utterly lost I felt when Justin asked me if I could find my way back to the hotel by myself. The words on signs were just squiggles to me! I don't know how I could live my life if I couldn't read.

I can't wait to see what Justin has in store for me tomorrow!


Chris' Photos

Today you and Chris got to have some fun while exploring more of the "real India."

Click on the photos below to see more behind-the-scenes action from today's episode!


Family Devotions

A Light in the Darkness

Today's memory verse: "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)

If you dress like a real Indian and eat like a real Indian, does that make you an Indian?

Can you imagine going to live in a country that is completely strange and becoming a citizen of that country? What would you have to give up?

Jesus came into this world to live among us. Can you imagine how different and difficult that was?

Read Isaiah 53:1-5 and make a list of words that describe the experience and the suffering of the One who would come into the world.

Christ became one of us for a reason. Do you know what that reason is? What does it mean to be the light of the world?

  • How does that change you?
  • How will it change India?

Jesus came to earth not so that He would be more and more like us, but so that we would be more and more like Him! Take a few minutes as a family to praise God for the ways He is teaching you to be more like Him.


Indian Clothing

What would you be wearing today if you lived in India?

Our choice of clothing is affected by many things - weather, culture, and our own personal style. It is the same in India!

Most areas of India are very hot, so people wear loose-fitting clothing made of thin material that helps them stay cooler. In the Himalayan mountain regions in northern and northeastern India, where the weather is much cooler, people wear warmer clothing made of heavier material.

India's people enjoy wearing bright, bold colors, and women's clothing especially brings a vivid rainbow of color into every corner of the nation.

Western style clothing such as jeans and t-shirts is becoming more common in India, especially in urban areas, but the traditional Indian clothing is still worn in every community.

Let's look at some of the most common clothing you would see people wearing in India:

Sari - You probably recognize this dress worn by the majority of India's women. A sari is basically a rectangular piece of cloth that is 4 to 9 yards long. The customary style is to wrap the sari around the waist, and then drape one end over the shoulder; a cropped blouse called a choli is worn underneath. People in India can often tell where you are from based on how you wrap your sari, because each region has its own special style. The word sari comes from a Sanskrit word that means "cloth." Saris are mentioned around 600 BC in the ancient Indian texts called the Vedas.

Kurta - This is what you saw Chris wear in today's episode. A kurta is a long loose shirt, which falls below or just above the knees. At one time this style was primarily worn by men, but today, it has become a unisex dress that both men and women can wear. Often in urban areas, women will wear a shorter version, called a kurti, with jeans.

Salwar kameez - This outfit is also called a Punjabi dress or suit, because it first became popular in the northern state of Punjab. This outfit includes a kameez, or long tunic, that usually falls past the knees, which is worn with a salwar, or loose-fitting pants. Both men and women wear this style, though women often also wear a dupatta, a long shawl that is draped over the shoulders or across the head.

Dhoti (Doe-tee) - This is a long piece of cloth, generally white, that is worn by men as informal trousers. They wrap the dhoti (DOE-tee) around their legs and waist to make loose-fitting pants. This may be worn with or without a kurta.

Lungi - Most commonly worn by men or boys, the lungi is a length of cloth that is wrapped around the lower half of the body and tied in a knot at the waist. Usually made of cotton, this style is more comfortable for India's hottest regions.

Pavada - Many little girls in south India wear a pavada, which is basically a long skirt worn with a blouse.

Lehenga - These colorful swirling skirts are often worn by women in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The skirt is worn with a short bodice called a choli and women often choose to cover their heads with brightly colored veils called odhani.

Turban - In some areas of India, especially in the north, you would see men wearing turbans. Typically worn by Sikh men, the hair turban is a headdress that basically consists of a long piece of unstitched cloth, which is wrapped around the head. Sikh men do not cut their hair for religious reasons, and their long hair is wound up in the turban.

Accessories - Most women and girls in India love to wear jewelry. Bangles, or bracelets, in all colors and sizes are commonly worn. The bindi is a small dot of color that is placed on the forehead for decoration. Girls and women decorate their skin with henna ink designs. Brightly colored earrings and nose rings are also popular in many areas. Each region of India has different styles and traditions.

Click on the photos below to see more everyday clothing styles in India


Temple Cities

Today you visited the temple city of Madurai.

There are at least 2,000 Hindu temples in India.

Many towns and cities have sprung up around a temple dedicated to one of Hinduism's over 300 million gods and goddesses. The local economy depends on income earned from religous pilgrims who might travel many days to offer sacrifices to their gods. Temples are often bustling with vendors selling flowers, rice, or animals that will be sacrificed as a ritual offering known as puja.

Today Chris visited Madurai, a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Madurai is known as the oldest continually inhabited city in the Indian peninsula. Its cultural heritage has been traced back as far as 2,500 years - people from this city traded with the Romans and Greeks as early as 550 B.C.!

Madurai is also one of India's famous Temple Cities. At the center of Madurai is the Meenakshi Temple - it is dedicated to the god Shiva and the goddess Meenakshi (also called Parvati). Every April, Hindus celebrate the divine marriage of Meenakshi to Shiva. Many other Hindu gods are also worshipped at this temple.

It is believed that the current temple was built in 1600, but ancient Indian literature refers to the temple as early as the 7th century. The city of Madurai was built around the original temple with streets placed in the shape of a lotus flower. It is believed that the original temple was destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 1300s.

Today, the Meenakshi Temple covers about 45 acres and is surrounded by 12 towers, called gopurams. Four towers facing north, south, east, and west serve as the main entrances. The famous southern tower is over 170 feet (52 meters) high! Each gopura is covered in small colorful sculptures of Indian gods, called sudhai figures.

In today's video, you saw Chris looking out over the pond at the center of the temple. Hindu worshippers believe this pond is sacred and walk around the water's edge before entering the main shrine.

Famous Hindu temple cities

  • Varanasi - Millions of Hindu pilgrims come each year to Varanasi, considered the most sacred city of India. They flock to the ghats (steps) leading down to the Ganges River. Hindus believe the Ganges waters cleanse them of sins and that they are called to make a pilgrimage to the city of Varanasi at least once in their lifetime.
  • Kolkatta - The Kalighat Temple in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is dedicated to the goddess Kali. Animal sacrifice is common at this 200-year-old temple. Families bring offerings of goats or chickens, hoping for a blessing from the bloodthirsty goddess. In 1952, Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity opened a free hospice for the poor in an abandoned Hindu temple located next to the Kalighat Temple. The Kalighat Home for the Dying is still in operation today.
  • Badrinath - This Hindu holy town in the northern state of Uttarakhand is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. The city is tucked into the Himalayan mountain range, just a few miles from India's border with Tibet. The Badrinath Temple is dedicated to the god Vishnu. Pilgrims have visited this site since the ninth century.
  • Ayodhya - Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Ayodhya is considered the birthplace of the Hindu god Lord Rama. This city was mentioned in the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.

World's largest Hindu temple

The Akshardham Temple was named the world's largest Hindu temple in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records.

This temple is located in India's capital city of New Delhi, on the banks of the Yamuna River (considered sacred by Hindus). Completed in 2005, the temple was designed with ancient architectural styles and is built with marble, pink sandstone, and wood.

  • The temple building covers 32 acres
  • 11,000 people worked on its construction
  • It was built in just 5 years
  • 850 volunteers work there daily
  • 100,000 people visit a week


Deepak's Story

My name is Deepak.

I am 9 years old, and I live in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

My father is a Hindu priest. As long as I can remember, my father led the whole family - my mom, my 12-year-old sister, and me - in worship of a Hindu god. As a family, we also often brought flower offerings to the Hindu god. We believed this would protect us from harm.

One day, my sister and I went with friends to a Children's Bible Club in our neighborhood. The songs, stories, and games at the Club were so much fun! I was excited to go back to the Club every day. And each day, I learned more about the one true God.

Miss Yuli, the Club leader, told us about the love of God and how Jesus died on the cross to save us. Hearing about how Jesus sacrificed Himself to save me really touched my heart. Jesus was so different from Hindu gods - Jesus gave His life to save all humans!

I accepted Christ as my personal Savior, and so did my big sister! I learned to pray to Jesus for my needs. I prayed for the children who attended the Club with me.

Soon, my sister and I told my parents about our belief in Jesus. At first, my parents were shocked. My father said, "No, Deepak. You cannot believe in Jesus. It is important to follow the customs of Hinduism and caste."

My mother also tried to convince us to change our minds, but my sister and I did not. I told my parents about the love of Jesus Christ. Finally, my mom and dad decided that it was okay for us to have faith in Jesus.

Today, I tell my friends about Jesus.

I regularly attend church with my sister, and we are both learning so much about Jesus.

Please pray with me that my parents will want to have Jesus in their hearts, too.


Fill your suitcase

Here are some ideas from other My Passport to India families on how to get started filling your suitcase with loose change to send more of India's kids to Children's Bible Clubs! Remember, each $1 you give will allow another boy or girl to attend a Bible Club in their own community.

"My 7 year old daughter is making handmade greeting cards to sell to raise money for Indian children to go to the Bible Club."

"I make handmade jewelry and donated a portion of my proceeds from a recent sale I had."

  • "We've been taking some clothing the kids have outgrown to a local resale shop. Our plan is to put the money we earn from those sales into our Mission India suitcase."

"Each week, as I am preparing the grocery shopping list, I go over the things I am buying especially for the kids - juice boxes, fruit snacks, etc. They choose an item (or items) they are willing to give up for a week to put the same amount of money in their Mission India suitcase. It's a small scale sacrifice, but every time they go to the fridge or pantry, they see what's missing and remember that lives may be changed for eternity through their gifts."

"We decided that at any meal if a family member drank water instead of the other beverages offered (iced tea, juice or milk) we would put a quarter in our box. How could we not sacrifice something so small for those needing the Gospel in India?"

"My boys' Sunday school class just held a bake sale outside a local grocery store today to raise money for My Passport to India and earned $368! The kids and adults alike were thrilled."

"My daughters (6, 8, 10) are using my Cricut to make gift tags for Christmas gifts. All sizes and many Christmas colors, some with printed papers, using punches, etc. They are selling them for 25 cents each or 5 for $1."

  • "[Our homeschool group] gathered with about 7 dozen muffins and cupcakes to sell for $1.00 each - each one to send 1 child in India to Bible Club."

"My girls filled the suitcase all by themselves, doing extra chores for their grandparents and even giving money from the tooth fairy. We learned a lot about India and had fun!"

Share your story

How is your family using My Passport to India? What ideas do you have about raising loose change to fill your suitcase for Children's Bible Clubs? We invite you to email your photos, stories, and ideas to us at

Kids - we want to hear from you, too! Tell us what you've learned so far, or share your prayer for the boys and girls of India. Include your first name and age and, if you'd like, your state or country.

(By sharing your stories and photos you give Mission India permission to publish this information on our website and/or in other print materials.)