Saturday, 19 May 2007

Pashupatinath

Here on the outskirts of Kathmandu you see Pashupatinath , which is considered to be Nepal's holiest Hindu Temple.

Not only is Pashupatinath a very important temple, it is also where many Nepalese Hindus come to send their deceased loved ones on their final journey down the Bagmati river. On this picture taken at dusk you can see a funeral party in front of the red building, all standing at the ghat (steps) leading down to the river.

As you can see from this picture taken a bit earlier, funerals here are quite a "spectator sport" with locals and tourists alike standing on the bridge to have a good look, and in some cases even taking close-ups of the funeral and the mourners. Watching respectfully is okay, but taking photos so closely I find a bit tactless, which is why I can't show you any photos of a Hindu funeral. Instead I opted to take my pictures from a more respectful distance, like this one below:

As it is the case in India funeral pyres also play a big role in the funerals here, with the vast majority being burned before they are given to the river. In fact the whole Royal Family of Nepal was cremated here after the world famous royal massacre where the Crown Prince murdered his parents and all his siblings, thus clearing the unlikely way for his less than popular uncle to the throne.

An atmospheric sight from earlier in the day with funeral smoke and sharp sunlight providing a special light.

A saddhu at Pashupatinath. As it is usually the case at tourist hotspots saddhus gladly pose for photos but expect (generous) tips afterwards. Fortunately I had the pleasure of experiencing at the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, that most saddhus do love having their picture taken and wouldn't dream of charging for it. You should never judge a population of any kind by the individuals you meet hanging around the tourist attractions.

By one of the bridges as night was falling and the fires were dying out, I caught a photo of this single young man standing on the bridge for several minutes. He must have had something to ponder about. In fact at Pashupatinath thoughts do start rolling in your head, as this as you can see is a place very alive and pristine, yet so intimately connected to death.

3 comments:

Oxhomiya Jeet said...

That was a great observation you made Esben: "You should never judge a population of any kind by the individuals you meet hanging around the tourist attractions."

BTW, a colleague of mine from here (Toronto) wants to get in touch with you for your impressions on travelling to Kohima. He has a family member (grandfather?) buried there in the War Memrial. Would you mind?

Cheers
Jeet

Esben said...

Hi Jeet, thanks for the comment. Please tell your college that he is welcome to contact me. Best way is by email. I'm [eagersnap][@][gmail][.][com]. Alternatively he can write a comment here. Whatever he prefers is good with me.

Oxhomiya Jeet said...

Thx Esben. His name is Peter Shippen and he'll get in touch with you.

Jeet