169. Nepal, Kathmandu…
From Bhutan, the land of peace and happiness, to Nepal.
Three million people running in the chaotic traffic… mountains of garbage piled up along the streets… thousands of scooters honking to overtake… cars looking as though they are going to pile one into another… indescribable, I assure you!
I am trying, with the help of my camera, to let you know the secrets of this wonderful country, a crossroads of two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.
I’ve tried to get to know something of these religions before leaving for my trip, unfortunately not enough… The education in comparative religion we get at school in Italy is totally focused on the Catholic religion! The Vatican fears the competition!
Buddha was born in a small town, Lumbini, a few kilometers from Kathmandu, 2556 years ago. He sought enlightenment and did not consier himself divine, but rather a teacher of the reality of life! He is said to have been born into the royal family by way of a miracle birth from the armpits of his mother! He left the royal house to preach and teach.
Hinduism has existed for 3550 years. It was born in Nepal which was born at the same time. The Hindu religion believes in reincarnation and in a God, Shiva, manifested in three figures, Vishnu, Brahma and Siva.
My guide explained to me, with great devotion every moment of the day, the meaning and significance of each temple and monastery.
From the first moment I asked him not to show me the tourist sights as I like to discover the mystery of every country I visit. It is not easy, but sometimes I succeed.
I was able to discover that in a neighboring town, in a large temple complex devoted to Shiva there was a celebration of the Festival of the Soul. Today would have been the most important day. More than a million pilgrims from all parts of Nepal come to offer their various gifts to honor the God of the Hindu religion!
We arrived at the Temples after an hour’s drive in indescribable traffic! Thousands of people began to arrive and set up a shelter for the night… a corner in which to spread some straw or a blanket to sleep.
The river, which divides the area of the temples into two parts, is where they burn the bodies of the dead. Large funeral pyres with clouds of billowing smoke darkened the blue of the sky… a smell so pungent it found its way inside of me… as something terrible that belongs to you and that is part of life!
We took hundreds of photos. I was moved by every image that was created and unfolded before my eyes… the colors of the clothes… the copper-colored skin contrasted against the colorful shawls… jewelry… small children wrapped in multi colored blankets… the preparation of large fruit baskets, gifts for the God Shiva.
It is hard to put into words the charm and emotion that I feel. I sit on the steps of a temple and I can’t get tired of watching. I wanted to spend the night with them in their vigil… the atmosphere makes me feel one of them.
Upon my return to the hotel I sit in front of the computer to browse all the pictures I took, belle, bellissime but not as utterly remarkable as the moments that I have lived in this magical Festival of the Soul.
I take a long shower to wash away the acrid smell of the smoke.
It was a unique experience, a special day… a magic one…
I LOVE YOU