Reluctance was my first response to the trip. I know, having preconceived notions isn’t the best thing, but hey, instincts arise involuntarily and I had no control over my response. And what did not help was, the teachers starting to speak about expectations, discipline, readings, dossiers and reflections…Enthralling right? Jokes apart, the main purpose of the trip was to understand 4 main concepts which included diversity, conflict, belief system as well as co-existence of religions in a community and how people celebrate religious diversity in Aurangabad.

After all these briefings on the trip and understanding the purpose of the trip, the fun bits did unfold – do we not have those amazing teachers who just lighten up a trip for us? Or those amazing friends who even at 12:00 midnight are game for a play pillow fight? Or how to forget, those roommates who get all the possible junk food even when mails strictly say, NO JUNK FOOD! Or those friends who just want to play with the teachers, however tired they are? As much as I try to leave out fun, it is just indispensable as it made up so much of our trip, but now, lets actually get serious. Celebrating religious diversity in religions and lifestyles was something that was so evident in the locations we covered.

For instance the Ellora caves. The Ellora caves are a culmination of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu caves. Although the caves are distinguishable by the religion they depicted on their walls, one thing that emerged out as a message was the coexistence of religions and how after a lot of conflicts, the religions were able to find common ground. In Aurangabad, it was quite obvious that belonging to a particular religion was not a factor by itself, for an individual’s choice in religion, but it is the people that can choose to either use their faith to divide or unify.

Thinking back to my momentary reluctance, I realized how misplaced it was in comparison to the abundance of learning and an ample amount of fun that this trip had to offer. The note-taking, discussions, accompanied by the drawn-out bus rides, giggles and roommates came together to make this trip an unforgettable and memorable trip.



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