Day 1: Temples, monkeys and history!
Temples, monkeys and history. If you were to ask any of us who went to Kathmandu about what they experienced on the 10th November, this is what you will get.
Walking through Kathmandu to Durbar Square, you could really see the daily lives of the local Nepalese. Butchers selling meat, people praying to holy figures and buildings being built. You could also see how this city is recovering from the Earthquake in 2015 and the scars it has left on the city. There are still rubble and bricks on the floor waiting to be put back.
The place that I’m talking about is Kathmandu Durbar Square. Historically, this is the old royal palace for the monarchy of Nepal. Despite it being somewhat destroyed by the earthquake, it is a really unique world heritage site and a place that shows Nepal’s treasured history. In modern times, this place no longer houses the monarchy of Nepal, and neither does anyone live there. It is currently a tourist area where tour guides, hawkers, tourist and everyday citizens have replaced the kings and queens of old.
Within the square, there is a place known as the Kumari Ghur. This is the place that the living goddess called the Kumari lives. She’s not a holy figure you will see as a statue in the temples, but a living breathing 5 year old girl being worshipped by the people. They believe she is a Hindi incarnation selected from the clans in the belief that she is the material manisfestation of god. We learnt that infants are chosen from 2 different clans, the Shakya caste and Bajrachanya Clan. They are put into a dark room where there are fake snakes, masks, anything that will be a child’s nightmare. If the infants cry and try to escape, they will lose their place as Kumari. But if they dont cry and laugh at the things happen, they will be considered “lion hearted” and will be the Kumari of Nepal until their first menstruation. After that, they can pursue anything.
During lunch, we went to a Nepalese restaurant where they served Nepalese curry and traditional dumplings which are called Momos. These foods are highly recommended, since you can have a taste of what is ethnic traditional cuisine in Nepal.
Later on, we went on a 30 minite walk to the Monkey temple. Although it was a steep hike, it was definitely worthwhile as we got to see not only the monkeys and the bhuddist architecture of this site, but the afternoon skyline of Kathmandu.
Although I’m sure by the end no one will agree on which day was the best day, we can definitely say that this day has been really interesting. We hope for more tommorow where we will be engaging in teaching and learning more about Nepalese culture in the 7 Womens center.
Credit: Kieron Keung