HV079- Sacred Places

Hindu women singing and praying by river in IndiaHearing Voices from NPR®
079 Sacred Places: Maps to Heaven
Host: Alex Chadwick of Conservation Sound
Airs week of: 2011-01-12 (Originally: 2009-12-23)

“Sacred Places” (52:00 mp3):

The spirits of personal shrines and collective spaces:

“The Geography of Heaven” (24:15) Alex Chadwick & Carolyn Jensen

Our show host maps get directions to Heaven, in the holy Hindu city of Vrindavan, India. A three story series:

The Streets of a Holy Hindu City” are reminders that the Hindu faith is everywhere in Vrindavan — countless temples line the streets and pilgrims march in devotion. There is also stark, third-world poverty and suffering. But for the faithful, the city is a manifestation of heaven, here on Earth.

Pilgrims on the Path of Krishna“, among the stones of ancient temples and bathing pools, march and chant praise to Krishna and his consort, Radha. They touch the holy water of the Yamuna River and walk barefoot down the same paths they believe Krishna himself once trod.

The Embodiment of Earthly Divinity“, the focus of many worshippers in Vrindavan, is the Sri Radha Raman Temple, where a black stone statue of Krishna sits enshrined and wrapped in saffron robes. Many consider the small stone statue to be Krishna himself.

Produced by Carolyn Jensen, for Radio Expeditions, a co-production of the National Geographic Society and NPR News. The editor was Jessica Goldstein; the engineer, Flawn Williams. Photo-gallery at NPR.

“Sacred Spaces” (16:49) Barrett Golding

Finding four places of faith around Montana: a Soiux Sundance, in a Buddhist woman’s home, a Methodist prairie church, and a sculptor’s ranch.

“Incantations” (3:36) Judith Sloan / Ear Say

The producers gather sounds from the streets of their own backyard, the 112 square miles of the borough of Queens, New York, home to the largest mix of immigrants and refugees in the United States. These are people praying in different neighborhoods, in churches, mosques, synagogues, in apartments, at public gatherings and in private moments who come from Togo, China, Haiti, Nigeria, Queens, Romania, even North Carolina. Part of: Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America.

“Lost in Ritual” (3:10) Hammad Ahmed

The producer is in Harvard Square with his aunts, looking for a “side-room”: That’s their word for a place to pray. Five times daily, even when they’re away from home, they perform “namaaz” (nah-MAHZ), their prayer service. They find the direction of Mecca, and a space that, temporarily at least, is sacred. Hammad Ahmed’s piece, was produced for the Say It This Way podcast. A brief glossary for the uninitiated: “qibla” = the direction Muslims face while praying (i.e. towards Mecca), “namaaz” = any of the five daily prayers, “hijab” = Muslim headscarf, “sajdah” = lying prostrate during prayer, “side-room” = a private-or-not-private space that Muslims occupy for prayer when away from home.

“Temple in Taiwan” (1:51) Dmae Roberts

A woman’s song on the streets of Taipei, Taiwan, leads the producer to the outskirts of town, to climb the rock steps of the White Temple. There, high in the clouds, one hundred voices are singing a salutation to the Buddha.

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Comments (5)

Wonderful Piece, Alex and team, you nailed it. What an awesome collage of our human need for transcendence.

You transported me.

Many thanks for your professional competence, your personal touches, and your hard work.

What ever you’re paid, its not enough!

Warm Regards,


Comment added by David Gornik on 12.26.09

How is it that NPR, once a bastion of reason, puts such value on the most foolish tendency of humanity? Religion is a crutch for the weak-minded in all its forms, whether it be the modern catechisms of Lutherans from Montana or the ancient prostrations of Hindus in India. The only way we will progress as a species is to give up the lie of “transcendence” and begin to deal with the reality of the physical world.

Comment added by JD Pate on 12.27.09

What a wonderful surprise I got today when I turned on the radio at my job! I work at a Hare Krsna school in Alachua, FL and I never expected to hear about Vrindaban on NPR. I was delighted to hear devotees chanting and know that thousands, maybe millions, of people could learn about Krsna and our movement. Thank you for your piece, this organization has done a wonderful service to Krsna already! Hare Krsna! Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Comment added by Emily on 12.29.09

I believe that “people” are sacred, from the most bedeviled world leader or ceo, to the pregnant mentally retarded criminally insane immigrant. With out “people” in the form of happily compromising “persons”… nothing is sacred, no “place” is safe, no HISTORY is complete as in the GEOGRAPHIC PRESENT via identifying not the real estate and the supposed traditions but the actions and reactions that allow our eyes to open, that make so much sense that we will actively identify the sacred people, who at the rite time of their life [not at the wrong time] are coaxed into and upon the sacred places, where “happy compromise” Persons, can form sacred dignity and even qualified exodus, using SACRED scientific tech

Comment added by brennan moriarty on 02.13.11

[…] broadcasts, documentaries, podcasts and found-sound, relating to a single theme. The episode, Sacred Places (HV079), presents a selection of short pieces that really capture the essence of the places and […]

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