Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nepal Trek 2009 - May 5, Part 2 - Pashupatinath

After visiting the Buddhist temple we went to a Hindu temple. I had no ideas about what to expect there and so I was in for a few surprises. I don't know much about the Hindu religion except that only people born into it can practice it. There are numerous deities, but I don't know anything about them.

The temple sits along a small river that feeds into the Ganges. Thus, cremations take place here and the ashes are scattered into the river to flow downstream to the Ganges.

I noticed from sign in the background that there is a cornea recovery center right on the site. I guess that means families can donate corneas prior to cremation. I wonder if there is a screening process for viral diseases, too? I suspect there is a higher incidence of rabies in Nepal as compared to the USA, and there have been cases where rabies has been transferred via a cornea transplant. Just curious.

I only noticed men at the cremations themselves although there were many women throughout the temple.

It seemed like a social gathering - very casual. No scenes of grief, but that makes sense because death is just one stage of the cycle.

There was a corpse being prepared upstream from the cremation platforms. There were women in attendance here.

The body was wrapped in silk and adorned with flowers.

This is a view of the main part of the temple. There was a party taking place on the patio area above where the body lay.

The other interesting surprise at this temple was the occurrence of "holy men" in residence. Our tour guide explained that these were men who gave up their worldly possessions to pray all day.

It seemed to me that they more closely resembled homeless vagrants. We were allowed to photograph them for a small donation. With all the tourists visiting, it seemed to me that they spent all their time posing for photographs. Hmmmm.

They were rather photogenic, though. Dreadlocks, loincloths, painted bodies - who could ask for more?

I did notice that they had mirrors tucked away in their bags for making sure their make-up was fresh.

There must be some significance to the color and patterns used, but, again, I'm clueless here.

There were beggars dotting the paths as well.

This was a beggar of a different sort - one of the roving vendors. "But you promised me you'd buy something on your way out."

One of these ladies must have been well educated because we exchanged greetings in several different languages. Afrikaans threw her for a loop, though.

More pictures from this temple visit and from our interesting dinner that evening are posted here: Link to rest of photos.

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