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A Greek Odyssey to Athens, Delphi, Olympia and Santorini
are striking indeed! . My research on comparative religion reveals that while idol worship from the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, Egypt and South and Central America have been virtually rendered extinct thanks to the socio-religio-cultural conquests of Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the only polytheistic religion with currently prevalent practices of idol worship that has survived over the last 6,000 years.
So for me and my wife, raised on a staple diet of Greek mythology in our childhood in India, a voyage to Greece was well and truly the stuff that dreams are made of! Our penchant for Greek food that rubs off on our 7 year old daughter Uma, provided significant attraction for, and tantalized her with the notion of sampling authentic Greek delicacies like the Gyro, the souvlaki and the baklava in Greece!
In early 2007, we decided to fulfill our long cherished dream with a vacation to Greece over Christmas and went thru the some intense planning to ensure that every conceivable detail – flights, hotels, attractions, restaurants etc. were taken care of well in advance. Incidentally, Greece and the Mediterranean parts of Europe and the Middle East are probably the only travel destinations over the Winter/Christmas months since most of Europe is freezing and does not lend itself well for travel with young kids at this time.
Long before the advent of the Roman and Gaullic (French) empires, Greece was the fountainhead of what we currently know and admire as the Europe, and indeed the Western civilization of today. With thinkers and philosophers like Socrates, Pluto and Aristotle, Gods of music like Apollo, generals and heroes like Alexander the Great, accomplishments across architecture, music, the fine arts, literature and a span of conquest that extended across Europe, the Middle East and most of Asia including India, “the Sun truly did not ever set on the Greek Empire”! Matter of fact, the Greeks left their indelible stamp on India in more ways than one - legend has it that many of Alexander’s generals were so in awe of “saare jahan se accha, Hindusthan hamaara” that they chose to stay back amidst the verdant landscapes of Coorg, married Indian wives and settled in India. This has culminated in some of the most alluring people in India today – the Coorgis with their incredibly beautiful women, including Aishwariya Rai and Deepika Padukone, who have become ‘Goddesses of the Silver Screen’ in Bollywood!:-)
As well, the parallels between the Hellenistic religious traditions of ancient Greece, with its Gods like Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon and Goddesses like Athena, Aphrodite etc. and the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism
The Erechtheion re-built to the Goddess Athena at the Acropolis in Athens...
Photo: Andy De
ATHENS – Kingdom of Athena and epicenter of the Greek Empire
It was the fulfillment of a spiritual saga for us to go to the Acropolis and behold the Parthenon, the legendary Erechtheion and the