Buddhist temples of Kathmandu

Economic and political centre of Nepal, Kathmandu rises to 1350 m above sea level. Surrounded by the foothills of the Himalayas, the city is sttleed at the confluence of two rivers, the Bagmati and Bishnumati. With its 1.5 million inhabitants, is by far the largest city in the country but also the royal and religious capital of the Nepali identity.

In May 2006, the Parliament claimed that Nepal would now be a non-religious state. A few years ago, Hinduism was still the official religion of the country, practiced by 75% of its population. Mostly represented in the areas neighboring Tibet, Buddhism remains a religion with a strong presence in the Nepalese capital.

 

Many temples dedicated to Buddha remain in the city and are at the very core of religious life for the Buddhists in the capital. It should be remembered that the Buddha was born in a small village in the Terai, a province south of the capital. Thus, many religious buildings were built across the country to pay homage to this nepalese deity. The most important temples are, no doubt, those of Bodhnath and Swayambhunath which are located at both ends of the Nepalese capital.

Heart of the important Tibetan religious community living in Kathmandu, the famous Bodhnath stupa is surrounded by many small monasteries. It is a haven of peace but for this community expelled from his own country it is primarily a symbolic place where they can practice their faith in complete freedom.

 

Truly, Kathmandu is a place where religious traditions, as diverse as can be, may be followed in peace and harmony. Nepal remains one of the few countries in the world who have never experienced religious war, despite the current political situation more and more complex.

 
 
If the serenity that comes from Bodhnath makes for a climate of tolerance that prevails in Kathmandu, the example of Swayambhunath is even stronger. West of the city and at the top of a hill, the imposing stupa. Here, Buddhists and Hindus pray daily to venerate their respective deities in mutual respect.
 

Gathered at the foot of these temples, Buddhist pilgrims will first begin their ritual by the "kora". This approach consists of a clockwise circle-revolution around the stupa representing Buddha. For these pilgrims, then it's time to make traditional offerings.

Thus, they usually take sticks of incense and flowers that they respectfully leave at the foot of a Buddha statue.

Many of them will finally bow before their god. They then slip on wooden planks for long minutes and repeat this gesture many times. For some, this practice is a daily one, and is part of a series of actions they must perform each morning before work.

 
 

Other believers, mainly Nepali of Tibetan origin, will finally join a "puja". This religious ceremony is celebrated in a Gompa or a monastery. It takes place every day at sunrise and sunset only. Celebrated by Tibetan monks who chant and pray Buddha to the rhythm of Tibetan traditional music.

Tanguy&Violette © 2007-2008 - All rights reserved.