KOCHI: For a group of 17 students with the Semester at Sea the world’s premier shipboard education programme founded in 1963 the temples in the city are treasure troves to have first hand experience of Hindu rituals which most of them have read from books and the internet alone.

“To see in person all the sculptures and idols and structural antiquities that we have just read about has been a vivid experience. We interacted with the priest and had some beautiful insights into the working of a temple from them,” said Niknaz Orghabian, a student.

The group which majors in a course titled Comparative Study in Religions is a part of a 600 member student’s cluster that arrived in Kochi on Wednesday. “We are focusing on the idea of ‘moorthipooja’ which is quite a foreign term for us,” said Samantha Wood, another student.

The group visited Murukakshethram, which is one of the few temples that allows entry till the kovil for all early on Wednesday morning after their ship docked in the city. Later on they headed to the Ernakulam Shiva temple, Sreekrishna temple at Ravipuram and Valanjambalam Devi temple.

The students interacted with the temple priests and the devotees present in the temples.

The professor of religious studies at Indiana University, David Haberman who is guiding the team said, “The course is pivotal in throwing light on why Hinduism is so misunderstood in the West by learning the history of it and how it came to being.” The students also paid a visit to the Cochin Cultural Centre for watching a Kathakali performance.