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Pushupathinath and Boudhanath, Tuesday, 10/20


This morning we slept in (ah, so nice).  At 10 am, we met downstairs in the hotel for a very interesting lecture by Anil Chitrakar, an engineer, educated in India and the University of Pennsylvania, and a "social entrepreneur."  He was recognized as one of the 100 "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" in 1993 at the World Economic Forum and is co-founder of Himalayan Climate Initiative.  Following his lecture, three Nepali students were brought in, and our group of 11 broke into three separate groups for a question/answer session, which was enlightening and amusing (age-wise!).


After lunch, hmmm, I'm not usually at a loss for words, but sometimes I'm knocked sideways by sights and smells, and this afternoon was one of those times. Pushupathinath, well, I was not prepared for it, even tho most of the group on the bus was joking about it beforehand, including me.  Please go to the link directly above, and then let my pictures tell the tale.


Pushupathinath Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu Temples in Nepal, and it is where followers of Hinduism go to be cremated on the banks of the Bagmati River (which later meets the holy Ganges River). 












We were given face masks prior to departing the bus.  I did go with the group, but I hung back; just not comfortable at all, seeing....  Is it proper to go view cremation, as a tourist?  I was standing above the group, next to one of these stone sepulcher-like structures, with monkeys jumping around me, when wailing began from across the river where the saffron-colored bodies' feet were being dipped into the river.  (Yikes!  Get me Out of Here!)




And then:  from bizarre to more bizarre --


Our guide, Krish, explained (via our "whispers") that it's all right to take a picture or pose with these dudes, but they expect money in return.  I thought they were old hippies, leftover from the 60's, but apparently not.  Called Sadhus, they're "wandering ascetic yogis."




Our friend, Irwin, was game.


  Sheila, too.  (But not me or Jimmy)

And then, to turn the day into a complete dichotomy, as we left the cremation area, we came across this:


This is another Dashain tradition, called ping.  A tall swing is made from bamboo and rope.  Hindus believe that one should lift off the ground at least once a year, leaving one's worldly worries behind.  Assembling a ping can take several hours, and once built, crowds of children line up for their turn at ping.  Our group saw several pings while in Kathmandu.  Having just witnessed funeral pyres, our guide now called out to us, "C'mon, let's all do it!"








And so we did, all of us ... Bernice was first, Marilyn next, and me and Jimmy, and so on.


Situated just beyond the Pushupathinath temple is Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I think we've seen them all in Kathmandu)!  The stupa's massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.


Notice the photo in front showing how the Boudhanath stupa used to look before the April 2015 earthquake badly damaged it, severely cracking the spire.  As a result, the whole structure above the dome and the religious relics it contained had to be removed.


Because of the influx of large populations of Tibetan refugees, over 50 Tibetan Gompas (monasteries) have sprung up.  We were privileged to tour one.  This is one of the most popular tourist sites in the Kathmandu area, and a most colorful one!








Today?  Whew!  Tomorrow?  What a blessing!

5 comments:

  1. Oh my. Certainly an unforgettable day.

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  2. Talk about cultural overload! So Fascinating!!! and yet, I might have had a hard time with that much culture myself. geez. So glad you took photos, wrote about it, and that link really helped explain it a bit more. Kudos to you two for getting through the day.

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  3. Goodness! Miss, how did you manage to get thru this stuff? You be strong.

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  4. Fascinating. It's good to be reminded our viewpoint and traditions are not the only way of viewing life...and death.

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  5. Hmmm! Fascinating though it is, I think I would have a hard time with this visit. As irreverent as it might be, I have to admit the photo of the funeral pyre reminded me of a scene in the movie, Around the World in 80 Days.

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