Culture and religion of Nepal

Photographer Alexei Terentiev is a frequent guest of Asian countries. This time he tells us about religion in Nepal.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Sacrifice
An animal with a notched throat, three healthy men, are surrounded around the altar in a clockwise direction. Blood drips onto the stones, forming a red continuous path. The blood sticks to the bare feet of those walking, falls on clothes. After the sacrifice to the animal with a large knife, the throat is finally cut.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Sacrifice is a celebration. Family celebration. If the victim is not connected with the concept of joy, then it loses all meaning. By sacrificing material things, a person acquires spiritual benefits and rejoices in it. So harmony and balance in the world is preserved. And the participation of children allows us to preserve the tradition, passing it from generation to generation.
Culture and religion of Nepal
All the best clothes, and girls - a festive makeup, even the smallest, who still can not walk.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Culture and religion of Nepal
Not far from the temple on the banks of the river is a truck. A small improvised corral was built nearby.Here, anyone can buy an animal for sacrifice, if he does not have his own.
This is how a sacrifice is performed in one of the small towns of Nepal, near Kathmandu. However, the ritual is almost the same throughout Nepal and India, where sacrifice still plays an important role in the life of Hindus.
Culture and religion of Nepal
In the morning after two days of celebration, the city makes a slightly strange impression. There are not so many people on the streets. Only bloodstains and mountains of garbage, which have not yet been removed, remind of what happened. There will be no traces of blood in two days, and bloody sacrifices will replace flowers and pieces of fruit. But the sound of a small bell that accompanies each prayer will still, starting from 4 am, remind you that life without sacrifice is impossible, and you should always treat it as a holiday.
Sadhu
- No peace with yourself? Anxiety and fears? Get up every morning at dawn and do yoga. Just as well at this time, prayer helps to cope with the lack of peace in the head, says Sadhu. Then he repeats the words of the prayer to be learned several times.
We are sitting under a big tree.In the center is a real Sadhu surrounded by people. Mostly locals and two Europeans. The problem with the world in the head is just a European, the local problems are simpler.
Since in Hinduism there were no monasteries and monasticism in the Western sense, the place of the monks was occupied by Sadhu - people who renounced all worldly goods and dedicated themselves to the chosen religion. Among the Sadhus, there were all kinds of people who used different techniques and methods to serve God. They always lived on voluntary donations of people whom they helped.
Culture and religion of Nepal
The Sadhu Institute exists to this day both in Nepal and in India. This Sadhu is very easy to learn: he never asks for money, he shares it himself. He treats the audience, gives food - prasad, and most importantly - helps with advice, delving into any difficult situation of each person.
Psevdosadhu or human factor
On one of the previous trips, I met a Sadhu, who was painstakingly painted to create the image of a monkey. A wire tail was attached to the back. Facial expressions and gestures corresponded to the image of the selected animal. With all his appearance, he tried to repeat the image of the monkey god, Hanuman, and he did it well.
Seeing the camera, he joyfully headed towards me, writhing ape-like faces and making either barking or growling sounds. After enjoying the impression, he explained that today is a great holiday - Monkey Day. And on this day, Sadhu should be given good donations to all, and Sadhu in the form of a monkey should be especially large.
In the evening I had the opportunity to meet this Sadhu again. Employees of the tourist cafe drove out a man with a smeared face, slightly insane bulging eyes and a large wad of money in their hands. Saying something about Monkey Day, he tried to molest the cafe visitors and asked for all the money.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Culture and religion of Nepal
Many Sadhus, with whom tourists meet, are not. These are good actors who brightly dress, put on make-up, go naked or in loincloths, sometimes carry with them boxes with cobras and other snakes that are shown to those who wish. Their task is to pose for a photo or just to entertain tourists, earning money from it. You can make beautiful and colorful photos with them, but you always need to understand that they have nothing to do with a real Sadhu.
Culture and religion of Nepal
The most famous place in Nepal where you can take a picture with Sadhu is the Pashupatinath complex. And here both pseudo-sadhu and really holy people come across.
On the banks of the sacred river
Pashupatinath is not only a place where you can see Sadhu. It is also the largest Hindu temple complex in the region, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the burial place on the bank of a small river Bagmati, which is considered sacred by the Hindus.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Burial on the banks of the sacred river is very important for believers, since not least the reincarnation in the next life depends on the funeral. Therefore, the funeral pyres here burn from early morning until late evening.
Culture and religion of Nepal
The sacred river brings together a variety of people. Here they wash the bodies before being burned, and then the ashes and the remnants of clothing are washed away. Just below the river, whole groups of people live by catching the rest of the burned ones. Here are the ritual bathing. Beggars come here and here you can meet real saints, yogis, hermits.
Two rites
The culture of Nepal would not be so rich and diverse, if at one time Buddhism and Hinduism did not mix here.Many years ago, it was in Nepal that Buddhism was born, resulting in many Buddhist shrines in the country. It was from here that Buddhism spread to Tibet (where it partially absorbed elements of shamanism - the Bon religion, which was practiced at that time in Tibet) and to the North of India, and then from Tibet again returned to Nepal.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Buddhism was initially calm towards any beliefs. Often Buddhists were not embarrassed that the people they taught were simultaneously performing pagan or Hindu rituals. The Hindus themselves are accustomed to a large number of incarnations of their god and have perceived the Buddha as another incarnation. As a result, there are a huge number of temples and holy places in Nepal that are equally significant for both Buddhists and Hindus. Moreover, some rituals and rituals, as well as temple buildings have absorbed certain elements of both religions.
Therefore, it is only at first glance that the scene when a woman depicting the current Dalai Lama on her chest first diligently performs a Hindu ritual - a sacrifice, and then performs the bark, rotates the prayer drums and comes to the Buddhist monk to say the words of the Buddhist prayer.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Culture and religion of Nepal
Tibetans
In Nepal, especially after the deterioration of relations with China, a lot of Tibetan refugees live. Almost all of them, as well as the indigenous people of the mountainous regions of Nepal, profess Tibetan Buddhism in its purest form. A very large Tibetan quarter is located near the Bodnath stupa, a place revered exclusively by Tibetan Buddhists.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Nevarsky Buddhism peacefully coexists with it, a teaching that combines both Buddhism and Hinduism (the teaching is so named for the people living in the valley of Kathmandu). It would seem that a common thing can be in Buddhism, rejecting the very concept of God, and Hinduism, with its pile of gods and deities? It turns out that these two religions may well merge together and complement each other.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Infinite ways
In Buddhism, there is an understanding that all people are different (the Buddha himself spoke about this), and each person has his own way. The main thing is where the person goes, whether he was mistaken with the direction, and you can choose any way. Probably, this is the basis of such tolerance of Buddhists towards other religions, such a variety of techniques and ways of attaining Buddhahood. And also the opportunity to concentrate on the goal and not too attached to the way to achieve it.
Culture and religion of Nepal
Culture and religion of Nepal
God is one
On the small street among ordinary houses, the entrance to a small Hindu temple was lost.A tall square fence, followed by a bell, statues depicting gods and the temple itself, in front of which stands a statue of a monkey — the god of Hanuman, which is read in India. Many complexes in various parts of India and Nepal are dedicated to him. It is associated with respect for monkeys, who consider him a direct relative.
Behind the main building, in the far corner of the courtyard is a small residential house. A rope with linen flowing in the wind is stretched across the courtyard. Under the tree sits a woman and feeds the baby. I smile at her, and she gives me a little embarrassed smile.
Culture and religion of Nepal
The attendant is removed in the temple. I say hello. A small conversation is fastened. And suddenly he asks what they believe in my country. I do not know at first what to answer, and then I honestly answer that the majority are Christians, but there are also Muslims, Buddhists and a little bit of people of other faiths. He is silent for a while, and then in broken English explains that Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism are just different names, but God is always the same in any religion. And it makes no difference what your religion is called, the only thing that matters is whether you believe in God or not ...Then he smiles, says goodbye and leaves.

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