Jesus, Buddha, Shiva and Happy New Year 2069
Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
19Trip End Jan 28, 2013
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Jesus is a popular name in Latin-America, pronounced "Heyzeus", Latin American names sound way cooler than western names, I remember when I was travelling in South America and everyone was talking about this Wan Pablo who had just died, I thought it must have been a Columbian Bandit but it was the Latin version of Pope John Paul II (Wan Pablo is way cooler). Anyway Jesus was a pretty hardcore traveller he had been travelling for about 7 years, slowly and very much on the cheap. He was paying his way by making jewellery and collecting different semi-precious stones through the different countries he had travelled.
We went back to Kathmandu and stayed in Bodhinath which is a Tibettan district centred around the largest Buddhist Stupa in Asia. In the chaos of Kathmandu it is like an ocean of tranquillity. It was a great experience to wake up listening to the bells of the monasteries ringing and the sweet pungent smell of smoking juniper (pine) needles burning. It’s a powerful and energetic watching the community come together from the spider web of streets stretching out from the stupa in a communal circumnambulation of the stupa at the end of the day.
It seems like the intellectual and reflective part of Kathmandu with Buddhist monks and trainees and searchers from around the world visiting this place. Instead of the banal slogans on t-shirts that you see in Thamel on one t-shirt in Bodhinath I saw the following;
The Paradox of our Age
We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgement;
More experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness;
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back; but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
We built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but less on quality. These are times of fast food but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character, steep profits but shallow relationships,
It’s a time where there is much in the window but nothing in the room.
H. H. The XIV Dalai Lama
To finish our time in Nepal we spent our last days in Bhaktapur which is one of the three old Capital cities in the Kathmandu Valley and has a relaxed rural setting. Bhaktapur is a medieval city with narrow streets interdispersed with numerous town wells, temples and pilgrim rest shelters. It seems as if not much has changed with this old rural city over the millennia except old socks and underwear.
Two wooden chariots – one belonging to Bhairav (pulled by men), the patron deity of Bhaktapur City, and the other to Bhadrakali, Bhairav’s female consort (pulled by boys) – are paraded through the city streets on New Year’s Eve (April 12) as the central event of this festival. A symbolic collision of the two chariots represents the union of masculine and feminine, bringing promises of fertility in the new year.
The festival starts with the procession of the chariot of Bhairav from a place called Taumadhi Square. As the supreme divinity embarks upon the journey, all the other deities of the city are said to descend from their divine seats. All the temples of Bhaktapur open to the public for viewing and worship throughout the festival. As the festivities come to an end, the deities supposedly return again to their respective divine seats.
It was an awesome spectacle something like a cross between the Trojan horse and the 'running of the bulls’. The chariot must weigh a ton and the wooden wheels have long since lost their bearings and move about unpredictably in all directions with a large number of people pulling the chariot down an old curved street with wheels lodged in old stone ruts. The chariot frequently gets stuck and the crowd cheers and chants as wheels are kicked and manhandled and the chariot rocked from side to side while a chain of people heave on the ropes. The OH&S guidelines for this procedure are shall we say fairly lax and during our stay over the festival one person was crushed to death from a wheel and two were put in hospital...
It was quite exciting as the crowd built to fever pitch and everyone was chanting, then all of a sudden the Chariot would break loose and hurl down the cobbled street. We would join the masses scattering out of the way along narrow side streets, cutting back through people’s back yards and through their inner courtyards to find a way to get back down reach of the main road to join the action again, we and all the locals had grins from ear to ear. The Chariot eventually reached the bottom of the road and reached a halt and the action turned to focus on erecting the pole.
A wooden tree trunk (lingo) measuring around 20m metres in height, is erected in a nearby square the same evening, but is pulled down on New Year’s morning (April 13), symbolic of the destruction of evil in the beginning of the new year. The wooden pole is symbolic of Shiva’s (Hindu god of creation dissolution and recreation) linga or his ‘manhood’ and is seated in the Yoni or Parvati’s (his ‘wife’) ‘womanhood’, yes it’s all about sex. To further illustrate this context see the photo of the linga symbol attached.
The men tried again they heaved on the ropes trying to bounce the huge tree trunk off the supporting cross timbers. There was a heavy crack as the supporting timbers gave way and the crowd gasped as people ran out of the way. But the men struggled on and lunged on the ropes then the tree trunk swung wildly to the right and the crowd shrieked and ran out of the way as it looked like the lingo was going to come crashing down on the masses, then the crowd surged back like a returning wave. The atmosphere built and built the crowd roared and cheered as the lingo was finally erected and seated in the Yoni, it’s going to be a great and fertile year!!!
Following is some pictures of the faces of the people of Bhaktapur. I was introduced to the concept of the word ‘Darshan’. To ‘take or give a darshan’ this Sanskrit word has no English equivalent we could translate it as ‘gaze’.
A great way to finish our trip to Nepal was having a meal
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