My Trip to Nepal.
by Rodolfo Contreras
My trip to Nepal in October 2011 coincided with the Hindu festival of Dashain (which celebrates and commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demons). It proved to be full of surprises. As the trip was not planned I was not aware that I would be an observer of this festival. The first big shocking surprise was the amount of animals that are slaughtered during these days. In the first temple in which I was aware of such sacrifices (Manakamana), I could not believe, and wanted to convince myself that the red liquid that filled the streets came from the tika and not from anywhere else. Following this liquid, I arrived in the place where sacrifices were taking place and I do not think they were very different than they were 100 years ago. With respect for tradition (the sacrifices) and the rights of animals (slaughtered somewhat cruelly), I guess there's a broad spectrum of opinions on this matter. I believe that traditions have evolved into better treatment of animals, although the sacrifice will continue but maybe not in that cruel manner.
Apart from animal sacrifices (an estimated 200,000 during those days), during the festival you can see meadows, esplanades and other places, swings made from bamboo where children enjoy playing. One can also observe kites flying through the skies, people buying and wearing their best and most beautiful clothes; and you can see tika on the forehead of people (red circle made from rice, yogurt and vermilion). The oldest family member places it on the youngest one to bless them. It’s red in color as it symbolizes the blood ties that bind the family.
Hinduism is the predominant religion with approximately 90% of the country’s population following it, making Buddhism the second most professed religion of the country; so even it was the most important festival of the country (Hindu) at that time, it was possible to see Buddhist way of life. The trip started in Kathmandu and continued towards Pokhara, with stops on the way to see Manakamana temple (we reached there by an amazing skyrail) and Gorkha town (perhaps this city’s history is the most important in Nepal, as it is the ancestral hometown of the Nepal's ruling royal family) until Pokhara. This place stands out for its amazing sunrises, its lakes, its suspension bridges and the interesting and beautiful places that surround it and its trekking paths.
Nepal is a country that fascinates and catches one by surprise; its people, its colours, its festivals, its landscapes and its meals are remembered forever. One imagines returning one day, to continue discovering a fascinating country.
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