Introduction: Closer to the Divine (01:57)
Worshipers flock to landmarks inspired by faith; many places are at the center of controversies. This episode will feature Angkor in Cambodia, Al Aqsa in Jerusalem, the Shaolin Temple in China, and more.
The complex of over 70 temples, including Angkor Wat, is the largest religious site in the world and the center of Buddhist worship; tourists outnumber devotees. Gardeners, including Loun Lorng, work to prevent the jungle from reclaiming the buildings.
Temple Gardening (04:42)
Lorng and his team of gardeners climb the towers of Angkor Wat to remove new growth and saplings; the ancient stonework is fragile.
Virgen de la Esperanza (05:11)
European sacred wonders are often popular landmarks. Hundreds of thousands of people visit Malaga, Spain on Easter to see the 17th century statue on parade. Javier Hernandez Martin and his brotherhood of throne-bearers will carry the statue for over six hours; they get one rehearsal.
Easter Procession (06:38)
Rain threatens to postpone the parade. Martin and the other throne-bearers carry the Virgen de la Esperanza through the streets of Malaga; believers offer encouragement.
Shaolin Temple (06:44)
Some sacred wonders are recognizable worldwide. The monastery, central to Buddhism in China, is also the home of kung fu. Shi Yandian prepares to qualify as a warrior monk. He practices with a monkey stick; monkey going up a tree is difficult.
Warrior Monk Assessment (04:13)
Apprentices arrive at the Shaolin Temple, hoping to qualify. Yandian performs his kung fu routine before the abbot and three senior monks before reciting Buddhist scripture for the selection panel.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (06:32)
Not all sacred wonders are ancient. The traditional Hindu temple, the first built in Europe, consists of over 5,000 tons of marble and limestone. Devotees believe Hindu gods inhabit temple statues; Miraj Patel and others prepare for the Hindu New Year.
Hindu New Year (02:22)
Patel and his team add new offerings to the mountains of food in the prayer hall of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Worshipers and visitors, including the mayor of London, enjoy Annakut.
Al Aqsa (06:23)
Jerusalem is sacred to three religions. The Dome of the Rock is at the center of the compound. The Palestine Red Crescent, including Ihab Abdeen, tends to casualties during Ramadan; everyone is fasting. Palestinian men under the age of 30 are not allowed access to the site.
Night of Power (05:27)
A proclamation throughout the city marks the breaking of the fast. Abdeen and his team attend to casualties at Al Aqsa during the final night of Ramadan; hundreds of thousands of worshipers fill the compound.
Credits: Closer to the Divine (00:30)
Credits: Closer to the Divine
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