Sonntag, 26. September 2010

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NEPAL 1: Kathmandu - Tradition

NEPAL 1: Kathmandu


Durbar Square:

Below Left: The Nepalese military parades in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal on October 20, 2007. A few minutes earlier, I photographed a herd of water buffalo in the same spot, scheduled to be sacrificed later. This is all part of Dasain Festival (or Durga Puja), Nepal's biggest annual festival, a 15-day family affair with the biggest animal sacrifice of the year. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the bloodthirsty goddess Durga over the forces of evil personified in the buffalo demon Mahisasura. To celebrate outside of the city, country dwellers like to erect swings and makeshift ferris wheels.

Kathmandu History:

The oldest building in the earthquake-prone Kathmandu Valley is almost 1,992 years old. The original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley are Newars, who speak the language Nepal Bhasa, but Nepali is now the most widely spoken language in Nepal.
The Newar rulers of the Malla Dynasty controlled the Kathmandu Valley and nearby areas from the 12th to 17th centuries. Kantipur served as capital of the Kantipur Malla kingdom. Kantipur became known as Kathmandu, named after a structure in Durbar Square called Kaasthamandap (or Maru Satal), built in 1596 AD by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. (In Sanskrit, Kaasth = wood, and Mandap = covered shelter.) From 1765-73, the Gorkha (or Gurkha) ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah forcefully unified several separate kingdoms into one Nepal. The resulting Shah Dynasty of Hindu kings ruled with Kathmandu as the capital from 1769 to 2006. Nepal may fully abolished the monarchy by a vote in April 2008, creating a federal democratic state with an elected leader.
Today you can still view the palaces of the Malla and Shah kings in Kathmandu's Durbar Square ("Palace" Square), which is officially called Hanuman Dhoka (a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, guards the entrance; and dhoka means door or gate). The Shah kings lived in Hanuman Dhoka until 1896, when they moved to the Narayan Hiti Palace, but Durbar Square still hosted important royal events, such as the coronation of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1975 and King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah in 2001. The oldest temples in the square are those built by Mahendra Malla (1560-1574), including the temples of Jagannath, Kotilingeswara Mahadev, Mahendreswara, and Taleju. The richest architecture visible in Durbar Square today dates from the 15th to 18th centuries.
Kathmandu Valley bustles today with the following three cities separated by rivers: Kathmandu (population 700,000; elevation 6235 feet / 2230 meters), Patan (190,000 in 2006) and Bhaktapur (78,000).


Behind the Lion Gate rises Taleju Temple. The three-roofed Taleju Temple was established in 1564, in a typical Newari architectural style and is elevated on platforms that form a pyramid-like structure. In the foreground, Hindu people line up to visit certain Durbar Square palace buildings which are only opened during Dasain Festival (or Durga Puja), which is Nepal's biggest annual festival, a 15-day family affair in Kathmandu Valley. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the bloodthirsty goddess Durga over the forces of evil personified in the buffalo demon Mahisasura. Blue water bottles are lined up to serve thirsty festival crowds.


Below: This massive stone winged Garuda statue kneels in front of Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple (left), which is dedicated to Vishnu or Narayan, in Durbar Square (Palace Square, or officially called Hanuman Dhoka), Kathmandu, Nepal.


Left: A woman in a red dress studies old wooden pagoda buildings in Kathmandu's Durbar Square (or Palace Square; officially called Hanuman Dhoka).

Below: A child looks out his home window, which is framed with ancient carved wood, with a modern Teddy bear attached.


Left: A Hindu woman makes an offering to a golden rat in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal. In Hindu mythology, the rat is the vehicle of Ganesh, the Hindu God of knowledge and the remover of obstacles (or Vighnahara, Ganapati, or Buddhividhata). Ganesh is usually depicted as an elephant head figure with a large pot belly, with four hands, one hand always extended to bless people. Ganesh is one the most important Gods in the Hindu religion so that all sacrifices and religious ceremonies, all serious compositions in writing, and all worldly affairs of importance are begun with an invocation to Lord Ganesh. Like most other Hindu gods, he has a ‘vehicle’, the rat, which is usually shown at the foot of Ganesh, but sometimes he is astride the rat. This unique combination of his elephant-like head and a quick moving rat vehicle represents tremendous wisdom, intellegence, and presence of mind.

Below: A Hindu girl and child watch a bloody animal sacrifice area under a bell at Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal. Dasain Festival (or Durga Puja) is Nepal's biggest annual festival, a 15-day Hindu family affair with the biggest animal sacrifice of the year. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the bloodthirsty goddess Durga over the forces of evil personified in the buffalo demon Mahisasura.


Left: This 12 foot high stone image of Kala Bhairava (also known as Kala Bhairab, Bhairava, Bhairo, Bhairon or Bhairadya) is a diety important to the Newar people. This Bhairab was sculpted in the 17th century, in Durbar Square (or Hanuman Dhoka), in Kathmandu, Nepal. Shiva appears as Bhairab in his terrifying mode. Bhairab can appear in 64 different ways, none of them pretty. The local Hindu Newars say, "Telling a lie while standing before Kala Bhairab will bring instant death." Kala means black, and Bhairava is Sanskrit for "Terrible" or "Frightful".


Below: In Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal, women string necklaces of marigold flowers for Dasain Festival (or Durga Puja), which is Nepal's biggest annual festival, a 15-day family affair with the biggest animal sacrifice of the year. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the bloodthirsty goddess Durga over the forces of evil personified in the buffalo demon Mahisasura.




Nepal-airlines-symbol.jpgLeft: The big golden mask of Seto Bhairab (or White Demon) dates from 1794 in the time of Rana Bahadur Shah, the third king of the Shah Dynasty, in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Nepal Airlines
uses this mask in their winged symbol (shown at right). By the way, "Royal Nepal Airlines" dropped the "Royal" word in 2006, to be consistent with Nepal's interim parliament rejecting the Monarchy, ending the Shah Dynasty of Hindu kings.

In Newar Hindu mythology, Seto Bhairab showed disrespect towards the important goddess Mahakali, tempting her terrible retribution.
When Seto Bhairab later offered a cock as an offering of respect, Mahakali first refused the rooster, then suddenly bit the head off as a bloody warning to Seto Bhairab: "Don't upset the hierarchy of the gods".
F
or ten days once a year during the Indra Jatra festival (and the coinciding festival of the Living Goddess) in September, this Seto Bhairab mask is uncaged, and devotees shower him with rice and flower petals, while rice beer is poured through his fearsomely fanged mouth. Men struggle with each other to drink from the sacred brew, which is blessed by the rain god Indra, the ancient Vedic god who came with the Aryan forefathers from Persia to India, many centuries before Christ. The rest of the year, terrifying Seto Bhairab is kept safely caged behind a wooden grille, on the Deotali Mandir royal temple.

Below: Tom sits with a sadhu, Hindu holy man, and Nepalese guide, in Kathmandu, Nepal.
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Left: From the Shiva-Parvati temple (built in the late 1700's by Bahadur Shah), Shiva and Parvati observe life on Durbar Square (officially called Hanuman Dhoka), Kathmandu, Nepal.


Below: A sensuous wood carving of a Hindu man and woman assumes a pose similar to Shiva and Parvati, in a pagoda temple roof strut, near Durbar Square (officially called Hanuman Dhoka), in Kathmandu, Nepal. Many more erotic carved wood couples and threesomes strut their stuff under the temple roofs of Durbar Square.

Shopping, Street Scenes:





Left: Men sell colorful scarves at an old temple surrounded by modern buildings in Kathmandu.






Below: A woman looks out a window through a thicket of wires, from a building posted with a Pepsi billboard, in Kathmandu, Nepal.


Left: Women sell curry, turmeric and other spices on a street market in Kathmandu.

Below: Yellow sacks display beans and lentils for sale at a street market in Kathmandu, the largest city in Nepal (700,000 people).


Left: A vender sells fruit from a bicycle in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Below: Three old bicycles lean against a wall in Kathmandu, Nepal.


Left: Two women sell vegetables on the street in Kathmandu (sometimes called "Kantipur"), the largest city in Nepal (population 700,000). The original inhabitants are Newars, who speak the language Nepal Bhasa. However, Nepali is the lingua franca of the valley and is the most widely spoken language in this country of diverse ethnic groups, who speak somewhere between 24 to 100 different languages and dialects.


Below: Colorfully dressed women shop for bright fabrics in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal.


Left: Handicrafts for sale (necklaces, prayer wheels, carved objects, metal casts) cover the walkways to Swayambhunath, the Buddhist "Monkey Temple", a religious site founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunath sits on a hill in western Kathmandu overlooking the city.

Below: Necklaces, prayer wheels, carved objects, metal casts for sale at
Swayambhunath, the Buddhist "Monkey Temple", a religious site founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunath sits on a hill in western Kathmandu overlooking the city.


Left: In Thamel, the bustling tourist center of Kathmandu, bicycle driven rickshaws compete with motorcar taxis for passengers, while dodging a crush of motorcycles and pedestrians on narrow streets.

Below: A
bicycle driven rickshaw carries passengers through Thamel, the bustling tourist center of Kathmandu.



Left: In Thamel, the bustling tourist center of Kathmandu, a crush of motorcycles, cars and bicycles keeps pedestrians on their toes in the narrow medieval streets. Motorcyclists blast their horns every few seconds in an attempt to scatter the pedestrians out of their path. The motorcycle horns were so loud, numerous and annoying, that I resorted to wearing earplugs when I walked the streets. Most motorcyclists totally ignored the few posted "No Horn" zones. The chaos of Kathmandu is both fascinating and exhausting. One of our group said the chaos of Kathmandu was nothing compared to cities in India.



Below: In Kathmandu, on the few wide thoroughfares, cars and motorcycles must drive on the left, legally speaking, but in practice vehicles weave and drive wherever they can.

Patan:

Left: Visitors stroll in Patan's Durbar Square (Palace Square), in Kathmandu Valley. Patan was probably founded by King Veer Deva in 299 AD from a much older settlement. Patan, the oldest city in the Kathmandu Valley, is official called Lalitpur, now a sub-metropolitan city separated from Kathmandu and Bhaktapur by rivers. Patan (population 190,000 in 2006) is the fourth largest city of Nepal, after Kathmandu, Biratnagar and Pokhara. The Newar people, the earliest known natives of the Kathmandu Valley, call Patan by the name "Yala" (from King Yalamber) in their Nepal Bhasa language. UNESCO included Patan's Durbar Square (Palace Square) as one of the seven monument zones of Kathmandu Valley on their World Heritage List in 1979. All sites are protected under Nepal's Monuments Preservation Act of 1956.

Below:
Patan's Durbar Square (Palace Square), in Kathmandu Valley.


Left: A Nepalese woman sells necklaces (some made of bone) in Patan.

Below: Asian women in yellow and red saris and sandals, Durbar Square, Patan, Nepal.


Left: Stone beasts guard the Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna, or Suwarna Mahavihara), which is a Buddhist Monastery existing since 1409 or earlier, located just north of Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal.

Below: The Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna, or Suwarna Mahavihara) is a Buddhist Monastery existing since 1409 or earlier, located just north of Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal
.


Left: Religious deities and symbols are carved in this ancient wood doorway in Patan's Durbar Square.

Below: This buddha is decorated with marigolds and other flowers, at the Golden Temple, (Hiranya Varna, or Suwarna Mahavihara), a Buddhist Monastery existing since 1409 or earlier, located just north of Durbar Square in Patan, Nepal.

Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath


Left: A long stairway ascends to Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple", which was founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley. It sits on a hill in the west of Kathmandu overlooking the city.

Below: A mother rhesus macaque monkey suckles her young, at Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple", which was founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Rhesus macaques can be found in temperate cedar oak forests, tropical woodlands, and swamps from Afghanistan and India to Thailand and Southern China. In India and Nepal, they can be found near Hindu temples, accepting food from humans.



Left: Two rhesus macaque monkeys groom each other, at Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple", founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunathsits on a hill in the west of Kathmandu overlooking the city, in Nepal.

Below: A young Rhesus macaque monkey leans back at Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple", founded about 500 AD, one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley.


Left: A woman walks clockwise around Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple", which was founded about 500 AD, and is one of the oldest and holiest Buddhist sites in the Kathmandu Valley.

Below: A man with prayer beads and a tall blue hat walks clockwise around Buddhist Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple".


Left: Buddha Eyes gaze from
one side of Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple". On most every stupa (Buddhist shrine) in Nepal, giant Buddha Eyes (or Wisdom Eyes) stare from four sides of the upper cube. These four directions symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha. The third eye (above and between the other two eyes) also symbolizes the all-seeing wisdom of the Buddha. The curled symbol (shaped like a question mark) in place of a nose is the Nepali character for the number 1, which symbolizes unity of all things.

Kathesimbhu:

Below: Kathesimbhu means "Kathmandu Swayambhu". This 17th century stupa (bell-shaped Buddhist monument) in Kathmandu, Nepal, is a smaller version of the more famous "Monkey Temple" at Swayambhu (above). A walk around the Kathesimbhu stupa promises the old and lame the same blessings as a pilgrimage to Swayambhunath's hill. The upper part of the spire has 13 gilded disks representing the 13 steps to enlightenment.


Left: In exchange for a small contribution, Carol sits with a sadhu, a Hindu holy man, in Kathmandu, Nepal.


Below: Kathesimbhu is very peaceful in this sunset photograph. Kathesimbhu means "Kathmandu Swayambhu". The upper part of the spire has 13 gilded disks representing the 13 steps to Buddhist enlightenment, and enlightenment is represented by the top-most umbrella.


Image on Right: Kathesimbhu means "Kathmandu Swayambhu". This 17th century stupa (bell-shaped Buddhist monument) in Kathmandu, Nepal, is a smaller version of the more famous "Monkey Temple" at Swayambhu. A walk around the Kathesimbhu stupa promises the old and lame the same blessings as a pilgrimage to Swayambhunath's hill. Buddha Eyes gaze from one side of Swayambhunath, the "Monkey Temple". On most every stupa (Buddhist shrine) in Nepal, giant Buddha Eyes (or Wisdom Eyes) stare from four sides of the upper cube. These four directions symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha. The third eye (above and between the other two eyes) also symbolizes the all-seeing wisdom of the Buddha. The curled symbol (shaped like a question mark) in place of a nose is the Nepali character for the number 1, which symbolizes unity of all things. The upper part of the spire has 13 gilded disks representing the 13 steps to Buddhist enlightenment, and enlightenment is represented by an upper umbrella.





Copyright 2007 by Tom Dempsey. Photographs or text may not be copied without permission.

NEPAL 1: Kathmandu

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