Thursday, January 11, 2007

stars, fires and mountains

This six pointed star, which in our tradition is the sign of the cults that worship on Saturdays (cult of Saturn), in South Asia represents Saraswati, the goddess of learning and music. The Swastik sign represents continuity (among many other things), and is embedded within it. A rising sun of energetic rays emanate from the Swastik. CULTURAL RELATIVITY if I've ever seen a perfect example.

A waterspout from a spring that is flowing pure, direct from the mouth of Shankar, an incarnation of the Lord of Yogis, Shiva.

A trail in the Shivapuri National Park, where I went walking for a few days last week with the relations and my buddy Ian. The path snaked through an old wash, the sides of which hung onto tree roots, hanging above our heads at some points.

An old Buddhist stupa at the peak of Shivapuri hill (2,700 meters, about 8,000 feet), which marks the highest point of the northern rim of the Kathmandu Valley. While enjoying the sunshine, we met a young hindu yogi, in his early twenties, who had completed one month of meditation in the forest. He is scheduled to spend the next three years living in a cave near the peak, engaged in the pure life. He won't even touch anyone else for the duration.

A Himalayan mountain view to the north from the northern rim of the Kathmandu Valley, where I went trekking with the relations last week.

Our group, rambling through the mountains. Check for a brief description of our trip.

Older brother Chris, cousin Will, twin brother Daniel and I, standing in front of the impressive dome of the Swayambhunath stupa, perched on a hill in western Kathmandu.

These two little kids asked me to take their photo as we were wandering around the historic part of Patan city last week. Right as I was snapping the photo, one of them quickly shot me the bird. I would have scolded him, but I was laughing way to hard.

A street in Bhaktapur, the well preserved town in the eastern part of the Kathmandu Valley. The local government heavily subsidizes building the facades of buildings in the old Newari style of intricate brick and woodwork.

Down by the river in Bhaktapur.

The Shreegha stupa, in the middle of a very unique courtyard in Kathmandu, which has a Tibetan monastery, a Theravada (Burmese/Thai) monastery and nunnery, and a few traditional Newar Buddhist temples, and some Hindu temples, all together in the same place, sharing the old sacred space.

A tree, draped heavily with prayer flags, on the hill at Swayambhu.

A delicate local bushy reed made and sold all over Nepal as a hand held broom. The rusty roof of this village home is made of old vegetable oil tins, flattened out and nailed together.

My friend sold the clay heavy dirt from her rice field in front of her house in Lelegoan to the local brick factory, in the distance. There was a failed campaign and protest programme to block the brick factory from being built. The air, once totally pristine, has slowly become more hazy due to the coal burning kilns. It has, however, brought some jobs and money into the rural economy.

My cousin arrived in Kathmandu last week, and since he had slept a night in Delhi wasn't feeling very jetlagged. Therefore I took him for a walk around the western part of Kathmandu, and after crossing a bridge I realized I had never entered the little temple complex on the banks of that small river. We walked in and were suprised to see a large fire on a platform at the edge of the courtyard, dominated by a goddess temple. There were feet sticking out of the fire, it was a cremation of an old woman.

Five young Nepali girls singing and dancing in Lelegaon village, perched on the southern edge of the Kathmandu Valley. The girls walk around to each house in the village belting local folk tunes in exchange for money and sweets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michael, please tell your brother Chris hello from me. It is very very nice to read about your lives and also to have found out how he is doing. I read Daniel's blog too. Chris may not think I would remember him with any fondness, but I do. I am so happy to see what you young men have done with your lives.
Rebecca Tisdale