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A day in Pashupatinath – Travel Diary Nepal

A local man walking in the Sleshmantak Forest of Pashupatinath, Kathmandhu, while a monkey is walking on a electrical wire.

Travel Diary Nepal

A day in Pashupatinath – Kathmandu’s most important Hindu temple.

Pashupatinath is Everyone’s temple, Everyday’s temple.
Located at some 5 kms east from Kathmandu, it is the largest Hindu temple of the country. It is a huge complex, highly frequented by locals, pilgrims, Sadhus and sneaky monkeys. (Read A Sadhu’s Life).
The activity starts early in the temple complex. The lower part, nearby the temples, is busy with people coming for the first offerings and prayers of the day whereas the higher part, filled with ancient trees, serves as a Parc where people come to walk, exercise, play badminton, do Yoga or just meeting friends over a hot chai (milk tea with spices).

A real singularity in Nepal is that the temples are totally part of the daily life. Part of the People, as if their Gods were within reach of hands and not untouchable deities which judgement and power they should fear. We really love to spend time around the temples there, Hindus or Buddhists, as they are always full of Life and activity. Full of locals which cultures, traditions and habits appears always more familiar to us.
And as photographers, full of great shots for a general Travel Photography! This one, makes no exception: Pashupatinath photos are totally captivating, full of Humanity, singular characters, devotions and dramas.

Purify the Spirit

Pashupatinath is the final destination for many Hindu people. A pilgrimage place, it is also an aim for holy men who often come there to die.
The holy nature of the place is due to the Bagmati River that runs through the large temple complex. Because the Bagmati River actually flows into the Ganga in India, the most holy river for Hindu people, the Nepali stream is therefore highly venerated. That’s the reason why the temple is a place of such a fervent devotion : for prayers as for cremations. Hindus believe in the holy power of the Bagmati River to purify the Spirit of the person : whether to finally stop the circle of Reincarnation or to assure a better one. So after the cremation, the ashes are carried away down along the stream. 

The Theatre of Life

Meanwhile the Brahmins proceed to the ceremony of the cremation with the dead’s relatives, other people gather on the opposite side, at some 20 metres only, for a lively Satsang. The Satsang is held every evening, right in front of the cremation place, to celebrate the Gods and the Faith in music, to which followers usually dance and sing loudly, happily and frenetically.
Thus from one side, tears and pain from Separation, from the other, songs and joy from Unification.
The authentic Show of Life and Death… A very intense experience to attend to!!

Also, to observe the children present at the cremation of their beloved one is such a moving experience. From a very young age, they live side to side with Death, as they do with Life. Nothing being hidden from them, they early take Conscience of the meaning of Death, and therefore Life. Death being part of Life as its final destination. So they learn to face to it in a more natural way than our occidental civilisations which tend to hide it as much as possible. While Death is almost a taboo in our societies, the Oriental cultures give it a spiritual meaning for people to fear it not and prepare it.

The Theatre of Life

A rough, raw but true Lesson of Life…And your Pashupatinath photos can both be adapted for documentary and travel photography, depends on which angle you take it.

Travel Diary by Florence Lepavec / Pashupatinath Photos by Lorenz Berna  ]

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