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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Tibetan Buddhist Temple Worship (Swayambhunath Temple)

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

On a trip to Katmandu, Nepal I was struck by the religious nature of the people who live there. Although the Nepalese people are very akin to their neighboring Indian people and practice the Hindi beliefs (80% of them), a smaller percent (10%), are Buddhist. Being close to the Tibetan, China region they are more precisely Tibetan Buddhist (I think).

It has always been peculiar to me how religion is such a regional thing. Where you are born will likely determine if you're Hindi, Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian. Here I found this trend to hold true as very few Christian churches can be found.

Near my place of stay was a Buddhist temple called the Swayambhunath Temple. Upon the temple are painted the "eyes of Buddha".

Me with the eyes of Buddha watching

There is a ritual that takes place in the morning. The people come to the temple and circle it seven times. If you keep your thoughts pure your sins will be washed away and you'll have good karma

Morning ritual walking to the temple

Circling the temple

I would rise early in the morning (as I always do) and join them in this pilgrimage. I'm not really sure what good Karma looks like so I'm not sure I received any. But then I'm not sure what my thoughts were about those mornings either. But I circled 7 times as the Tibetan Buddhist did and hoped for the best.

I didn't see any other westerners in my quest for good karma. The other worshippers there mostly ignored me but I'm sure they wondered what I was doing with them this early in the morning.

I found these people of Katmandu to be a very reverent people. I did my best to respect their religious beliefs. But as always I'm concerned there is some nuance of this Buddhist culture of which I'm not aware as I confronted in Sri Lanka:

Surrounding the temple are monks and vendors who are happy to take your money. Everywhere in the world it seems religion and money are intertwined.

I did find this an excellent place to buy saffron near the temple. I'm always in search of places that have local prices and this was one of them. I bought a small container at first and took back to my hotel. After verifying it was truly saffron (many sell safflower and label as saffron), I went back and loaded up. So I guess maybe I did have good karma!

I actually like the concept of the Buddhist religion. They are a peaceful people who believe in no harm to others. Karma is a big thing with them. The equivalent of what we might phrase as "what comes around, goes around". Good advice for everyone.

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