Monday, April 28, 2008

Maha Shivaratri

Oh this post is long overdue but things have been just a teensy weensy bit busy here in The People's Republic of Nepal. (I know I said I would leave politics aside for awhile but a post dedicated to the election results really is warranted - just not this one.)

Last month I left the house unusually early, leaving all kiddie duty to WonderBill. I went with a group to Pashupati, one of the most sacred places in the Hindu world, to see the Sadhus do their thing on the river banks and temple terraces. Now to a believer I know this is truly sacred so I will try to report this as objectively as possible but I've got to say, to the uninitiated, you do a lot of head shaking in disbelief peppered with a few laughs that you aren't sure are appropriate but spontaneously rise up anyway.

Shivaratri is a celebration of the Hindu god Shiva's birthday. Sadhus or holy men from all over Nepal and India pilgrimage to many Shiva temples, but most particularly to Pashupati to, well ... I know it is supposed to be to pay homage, but it sure looked like one heck of a party to me. The big event was the night before where I understand there were hundreds of thousands of people at Pashupati. Pashupati is a large collection of temple buildings and ghats (riverside cremation sites) along the Bagmati River. Non hindus are allowed all over the complex but not inside the main temples. What I saw was the post party hangover at 7am the next morning.

We entered Pashupati via a misty, wooded footpath. Monkeys were everywhere feasting on the leftovers from the party the night before and a few stalwart Nepalis were doing their calisthenics. It was just feeling wayyyy to early for this. As we got closer to the heart of Pashupati we started to see the groups of Sadhus - different sects with some physical distinctives - just sitting around. Many, many were smokin' the ganga. Some had dreads down to their ankles. Really. Some were sleeping (this seemed to make the most sense to me) after a looooong night. Some were just wearing loincloths. Some were clothed in ashes. Several were playing musical instruments. Have I mentioned that this is still really early in the morning?Nearly all were quite friendly and happy for you to take a picture - of course some expected a donation for their kindness:). What song should be on this soundtrack? Along the river were mourning parties dressed in white, attending the cremation of their loved ones. Not that anyone plans it but I can only assume that Shivaratri is an auspicious day to die.

As always it is late as I write. More another time.

Peace, Laurel

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I love reading about your incredible adventures! So sad I missed your call last week. Please try again soon.