(July 21, 2018)
Hello! Thank you for checking in!
I am departing Nepal in a few days and I have a lot to catch you all up on-I don’t know where the time went. I am leaving for Paris on Wednesday to be reunited with Geoff after 2 months. Packing is underway!
I want to share a remarkable temple with you all: Pashupatinath. I visited this temple on my second or third day in Nepal with fellow interns who have since departed Nepal.
Pashupati is one of the holiest temples in the Hindu religion dedicated to Lord Shiva. In short this is where Hindus hold their funeral and cremation services. The dead are cremated along the banks of the Bagmati river which flows into the River Ganges.
It is believed that those who die in Pashupatinath Temple are reborn as a human, regardless of any misconduct that could worsen their karma.
They hold funerals every day. If by chance no one has actually passed on a particular day workers create a fake body out of straw and other materials etc. to burn as a stand in.
If you enter the temple before 8pm you have to pay 1000 rupees to enter. There is a prayer service and ceremony performed in the evening. People can come and go to these temple ceremonies. It makes for an interesting sense of community. While someone may no personally know the deceased they are celebrating their previous life, singing and clapping along with the music and participating in prayer.
On this particular day there were 2 funerals still occurring when we arrived. I could hear and see the family members mourning their dead on the river banks. I could hear their cries from across the river as the family performed the final rituals before lighting the funeral pyre. [Rituals vary by sect of Hinduism but wikipedia can help with general information.]
Families are given 10-30 days to mourn after the funeral. During this time the widow/widower stays home and other family members visit to tell stories/good memories of the deceased. The culture/religion, I think, values families much more than what I am used to in the United States. When family members of mine passed we took a few days off and returned to regular life…and that’s if we were close.
There is harmony between life and death in the Hindu religion. Maybe because they believe in reincarnation so everything seems more sacred…? I hope that it provides some kind of peace for the survivors of the deceased.
I like the idea of “recycled” souls or reincarnation. Our bodies are described like mini-universes. We are all made of the same things as the sun and the stars and it connects us all in some sort of greater web of the universe.