Jesus, Buddha, Shiva and Happy New Year 2069

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
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Trip End Jan 28, 2013


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Where I stayed
Nyatapola Guest House Bhaktapur
Read my review - 5/5 stars

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

After our last trek and while soaking up some sunshine in Pokhara, we found Jesus, and he's Mexican!

Jesus is a popular name in Latin-America, pronounced  "Heyzeus", Latin American names sound way cooler than western names, I remember when I was travelling in South America and everyone was talking about this Wan Pablo who had just died, I thought it must have been a Columbian Bandit but it was the Latin version of Pope John Paul II (Wan Pablo is way cooler). Anyway Jesus was a pretty hardcore traveller he had been travelling for about 7 years, slowly and very much on the cheap. He was paying his way by making jewellery and collecting different semi-precious stones through the different countries he had travelled. He was travelling with a friend from Costa Rica he recently met in India who had been doing the same itinerant jewellery making for 18 yrs. They had a unique style of weaving nylon cord around stones to make all sorts of designs, Mel fell in love with a tiger eye ring (see photo). Jesus had an infectious, positive, relaxed acceptance of life and people and a way of moving through life without seeming to get any chipped edges, a remarkable achievement of character.

We went back to Kathmandu and stayed in Bodhinath which is a Tibettan district centred around the largest Buddhist Stupa in Asia. In the chaos of Kathmandu it is like an ocean of tranquillity. It was a great experience to wake up listening to the bells of the monasteries ringing and the sweet pungent smell of smoking juniper (pine) needles burning.  It’s a powerful and energetic watching the community come together from the spider web of streets stretching out from the stupa in a communal circumnambulation of the stupa at the end of the day.

It seems like the intellectual and reflective part of Kathmandu with Buddhist monks and trainees and searchers from around the world visiting this place. Instead of the banal slogans on t-shirts that you see in Thamel on one t-shirt in Bodhinath I saw the following;

The Paradox of our Age
We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgement;
More experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness;
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back; but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
We built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but less on quality. These are times of fast food but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character, steep profits but shallow relationships,
It’s a time where there is much in the window but nothing in the room.
H. H. The XIV Dalai Lama

 
 






















 










 To finish our time in Nepal we spent our last days in Bhaktapur which is one of the three old Capital cities in the Kathmandu Valley and has a relaxed rural setting. Bhaktapur is a medieval city with narrow streets interdispersed with numerous  town wells, temples and pilgrim rest shelters.  It seems as if not much has changed with this old rural city over the millennia except old socks and underwear. We had timed our visit for the Nepali new years festival for the year 2069, (Yes, Nepal has its own calendar!). For a quiet rural town they know how to celebrate. The festival is called Bisket Jatra and no its nothing to do with Jatz crackers and cheese. Every year, the whole city of Bhaktapur and people from across the Kathmandu Valley, empty themselves onto the streets for over a week to celebrate Bisket Jatra which starts four days before the Nepalese New Year and continues for four days after it. Lasting from April 9 until April 16 this year (2012 aka 2068/2069). There are 2 main events; the Chariots and erecting the Lingo.

Two wooden chariots – one belonging to Bhairav (pulled by men), the patron deity of Bhaktapur City, and the other to Bhadrakali, Bhairav’s female consort (pulled by boys) – are paraded through the city streets on New Year’s Eve (April 12) as the central event of this festival. A symbolic collision of the two chariots represents the union of masculine and feminine, bringing promises of fertility in the new year.

The festival starts with the procession of the chariot of Bhairav from a place called Taumadhi Square. As the supreme divinity embarks upon the journey, all the other deities of the city are said to descend from their divine seats. All the temples of Bhaktapur open to the public for viewing and worship throughout the festival. As the festivities come to an end, the deities supposedly return again to their respective divine seats.

It was an awesome spectacle something like a cross between the Trojan horse and the 'running of the bulls’. The chariot must weigh a ton and the wooden wheels have long since lost their bearings and move about unpredictably in all directions with a large number of people pulling the chariot down an old curved street with wheels lodged in old stone ruts. The chariot frequently gets stuck and the crowd cheers and chants as wheels are kicked and manhandled and the chariot rocked from side to side while a chain of people heave on the ropes. The OH&S guidelines for this procedure are shall we say fairly lax and during our stay over the festival one person was crushed to death from a wheel and two were put in hospital... 

It was quite exciting as the crowd built to fever pitch and everyone was chanting, then all of a sudden the Chariot would break loose and hurl down the cobbled street. We would join the masses scattering out of the way along narrow side streets, cutting back through people’s back yards and through their inner courtyards to find a way to get back down reach of the main road to join the action again, we and all the locals had grins from ear to ear. The Chariot eventually reached the bottom of the road and reached a halt and the action turned to focus on erecting the pole.

A wooden tree trunk (lingo) measuring around 20m metres in height, is erected in a nearby square the same evening, but is pulled down on New Year’s morning (April 13), symbolic of the destruction of evil in the beginning of the new year. The wooden pole is symbolic of Shiva’s (Hindu god of creation dissolution and recreation) linga or his ‘manhood’ and is seated in the Yoni or Parvati’s (his ‘wife’) ‘womanhood’, yes it’s all about sex. To further illustrate this context see the photo of the linga symbol attached. The night began with teams of men having seated the ‘lingo’ and heaving on the ropes (at 180 degrees) to try and raise the lingo, anyone with any knowledge of physics (or a woman) would have seen that this was going to be a very long night. But men being men, ignored the obvious and charged on with invigorated bravado and masculinity to erect the ‘lingo’. By mid-morning the next day the lingo was at a limp angle and the mens spirits flagging and breathless, it seemed if it was all for naught and that this years crop fertility would be the poorest yet. Just ask the women how to do it, slow down relax and think about.

The men tried again they heaved on the ropes trying to bounce the huge tree trunk off the supporting cross timbers. There was a heavy crack as the supporting timbers gave way and the crowd gasped as people ran out of the way. But the men struggled on and lunged on the ropes then the tree trunk swung wildly to the right and the crowd shrieked and ran out of the way as it looked like the lingo was going to come crashing down on the masses, then the crowd surged back like a returning wave. The atmosphere built and built the crowd roared and cheered as the lingo was finally erected and seated in the Yoni, it’s going to be a great and fertile year!!!




 

 














 Following is some pictures of the faces of the people of Bhaktapur. I was introduced to the concept of the word ‘Darshan’. To ‘take or give a darshan’ this Sanskrit word has no English equivalent we could translate it as ‘gaze’. It has a number of connotations, to really look into and acknowledge a person. To see and meet at the same time; a way of saying something without saying it. It can also be a point of view, a demonstration, having seen and feeling blessed to have been there, sensing of having drawn positive and beneficial inspiration from it. I like this word and its connection to people and places.

 









 








 
















 










 

  A great way to finish our trip to Nepal was having a meal and spending the night with Fanindra and family at their home in Kathmandu (with some fine whiskey). Thanks Fanindra, Sabitri, Babin and Alisa  for opening your home to us. 

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

Matt P on

Nothing worse than a limp Linga!!
Glen, you look like something out of 'Land of the Giants' in the last photo with the family. Would love to be there with you. Sounds like you are having an awesome time. The photos of the local brews bring back memories of longnecks of Hit 9000 in Sikkim.
Venus Bay was in the news last due to a very unfortunate accident. 3 guys were wakeboarding near the entrance when the tow rope got wrapped around the prop. The seas were very rough and resulted in one 17 yo drowning and another being taken to hopital where he had a heart attack and also died. They found the body of the yound lad who drowned a couple of days latter in a cave at the base of the cliffs - very sad.
But you'll also be happy to know that the Crows won the NAB cup this year (Pre season comp) and after round 4 have only lost one game. A huge improvement to last year.
Happy Trails!

Andrew Scholz on

Glen please ring Tamara urgently re Nana Scholz

Valentin on

Nice to hear from you guys ! Your trip sounds really awesome I definitely want to go there soon. Glenn you look like a giant in the last picture :)

Good luck ! What's next ?
Valentin from Luang Namtha!

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