Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pashupatinath, Nepal: 11Aug07

Powerful Comtemplation of Death

This is the only journal or diary that i write it on the spot. Pashupatinath, the holy place of Hindu in Nepal, which is the equivalent of Varanasi in India. The holy river, The Bagmati, has cremation gaoing on from time to time.
Visitors of Pashupatinath temple are aloowed to sit right opposite to the river bank in front of the burning ghat, but access to the main temple is only for Hindu. The sould of howling, griefing women in their bright color sarees were lingering in the air as i sat by the river bank. The boday of the deceased was covered with some bright yellow color clothes. Every famil members kind of offering their last respect to the deceased with a piece of cloth and some kind of powder or water. A pile of woods were there ready for the cremation. The body then lifted on top of the logs. The male family memebers spraying holy water (the river water) and put flowers on the body. The women have left. As the last ritual to the deceased, the religiours man took off the bright yellow cloth of the deceased and throw the cloth into the river. He unwrapped the body a little bit more and installed more logs and dried grasses around the body. Finally, he lit the fire. So the holy fire (fire is sacred in Nepal) sends the deceased to the heaven or higher born as the holy river water cleanses his sins.
There are a total of 7 burning ghats along the west bank of river. There are two ghats already 'done' and the staff washed the ashes into the river. One ghat has pile of woods, waiting for another body. (By the time i left, an ambulance arrived with another body.) Three ghats are still burning and for two of the ghats, i could still see the human figure and recognised even the long hair. In the air, there was the smell of burning meat. May be that is why Hinduism promotes vegetarianism, so that when your close one dies and burns into ashes, you won't have the feelings of he is been burnt like a piece of barbeque meat.
Just around 20 meter from the ghat, people are bathing, washing and children are swimming. i could never understand how could they manage to do so. i remember the boatman in Varanasi said, " You foreigners think Ganges is dirty water, but for us, it is holy water." May be this is just the matter of faith.
i could see many tourists are busying taking pictures of the on going funeral. i am tempted to do so but back home, i would think it is rude to intrude people's funeral. So i don't think it would be right for me to do so. This is merely my tiny bit of respect to the family and the deceased.

People are actually standing around the river and bridge to see the cremation. The east side of the river got the body just less than 50meter from the "viewers", so more people are here. i sat at the West side of the river though. It is quieter for observation.

1 comment:

柏大衛 said...

I always find it hard to understand the attitude on the water being holy, too. Indeed, faith seems important there.