Experiencing other Religions

Experiencing other Religions

By Ruchika Vyas,

Travel is about immersing yourself in another culture, in a world that is different from your own. In what seems like an ideal way truly experience such an immersion, Irish-Australian expat Ben Bowler launched the “Monk for a Month” programme in 2008. It involves spending time in Buddhist temple in Thailand-something that Thai men are known to commonly do. Although lessons are open to the public, as they can simply walk up to a temple and ask for it, being a foreigner can often present logistical problems in the form of language barriers and appropriate etiquette. This programme, which cost about GBP 600 for a 28-day package, intends to help ease these issues so that people can get the most out of it. Contrary to popular opinion, the monks are keen to have tourists spend time with them in their temple. (

‘Muslim for a Month’ in Istanbul, on the other hand, offers an in-depth understanding of a religion that has often been misunderstood, There is a vast difference in the perceptions of Buddhism and Islam. The former has been widely accepted and draws a large number of tourists, whereas the latter is often in the news for the wrong reasons. The idea is to provide the average individual with a better understanding of Islam without having a convert. Along with a portion of regular sightseeing in Istanbul, this programme also includes prayers (during the day and at night) and lessons on Islam’s basic practices. One can also attempt fasting, along with giving up alcohol and pork to truly dive into the programme. (


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