Gentle and charming people, exquisite temples, deep spirituality, vibrant culture, rich artistic heritage, bursting with colors, delightful chaos – those are what come to mind when we think of Kathmandu.
Our hearts wrenched thinking that many of the splendid cultural heritage sites and sacred places that captivated us no longer stand as a result of the recent devastating earthquake.
But most of all, our hearts go out to its people. We couldn’t help thinking of those wonderful people we met and those who we simply observed as they were going through the rythmn of their everyday lives. We wonder how they are, if they’re okay.
As Kathmandu mourns and recovers from the tragedy, we reminisce our experiences and impressions during our visit in this soulful city four years ago. Allow us to share them with you.
We remember being in awe of Durbar Square, a World Heritage site that is the religious and social center of Kathmandu’s old city. Durbar Square was a dizzying complex of splendid palaces, exquisite Hindu temples and lovely courtyards built between the 12th and 18th centuries by the ancient kings of Nepal. (Very sadly, many of the structures in the square were leveled from the earthquake. )
This is the window to the home of Kumari, a living goddess worshipped by Hindus in Nepal. We found this tradition fascinating. We learned that a Kumari is always of pre-pubescent age. The current one is only 6 years old. People believe that she is a representation of divine female divinity. She is chosen based on certain physical characteristics (neck like a conch shell, eye lashes like a cow, etc. ). She is no longer a goddess if she starts having a period or loses a teeth, then a search for new a Kumari begins.
Although a Hindu nation, Nepal is also home to many Buddhist sacred sites. Swayambunath is an ancient Buddhist temple complex and is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal. It is popularly known as the “monkey temple” because of the many monkeys living in parts of the complex.
Pilgrims circumnavigating the stupa. Also know as Little Tibet, Bodnath has become has become one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism after the arrival of thousands of Tibetan refugees following Chinese invasion in 1959.
We are hopeful that the strong, resilient spirits of the people of Nepal will prevail and that they will heal and rebuild. For now, they desperately need our help.
How We Can Help
Here are links to some of the aid groups where you can send your donation. They are all rushing to provide crucial help to the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
- WORLD FOOD PROGRAM
- RED CROSS
- The American Jewish Joint Distribution committee (JDC)
- WORLD VISION
- SAVE THE CHILDREN
- PAYPAL GIVING FUND
- SAMARITANS PURSE
- DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
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