Thursday, May 28, 2009

Religion in Nepal

Religion in nepal

Religion in Nepal :From the simple early morning puja of a Kathmandu housewife at a local Hindu temple to the chanting of Buddhist monks in a village monastery, religion is a cornerstone of Nepali life. In Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism have mingled wonderfully into a complex, synergetic blend. Nowhere is this more evident than in Kathmandu where Tibetan Buddhists and Nepali Hindus often worship at the same temples.
The Buddha was born in Nepal over 25 centuries ago but the Buddhist religion first arrived in the country later, around 250 BC. It is said to have been introduced by the great Indian Buddhist emperor, Ashoka. Buddhism eventually lost ground to Hinduism, although the Tantric form of Tibetan Buddhism made its way full circle back into Nepal in the 8th century AD. Today Buddhism is practised mainly by the people of the high Himalaya, such as the Sherpas and Tamangs, and by Tibetan refugees.
Officially Nepal is a Hindu country but in practice the blending of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and deities, and the subsequent overlaying onto both of Tantric aspects make it hard to separate the religions. Perhaps because of this there is little religious tension in Nepal, and religion plays almost no part in politics.
Take the concepts of Hinduism and Buddhism, add some Indian and Tibetan influence and blend this with elements of animism, faith healing and pinch of Tantric practice, and you get a taste of Nepal’s fabulous spiritual stew.
One thing you’ll quickly learn as you travel through Nepal is that is fruitless to look for rational responses and distinctions in questions of Nepali faith.
Ganesh Hinduism
With his elephant head, Ganesh is probably the most easily recognised and the most popular of the gods. He is the god of prosperity and wisdom and there are thousands of Ganesh shrines and temples across Nepal. His parents are Shiva and Parvati, and he has his father’s temper to thank for this elephant head. After a long trip, Shiva discovered Parvati in bed with a young man. Not pausing to think that their son might have grown up a little during his absence, Shiva lopped his head off ! Parvati then forced him of the first living thing he saw which happened to be an elephant.
Chubby Ganesh has a super sweet tooth and is often depicted with his trunk in a mound of sweets and with one broken tusk; he broke it off and threw at the moon for making fun of his fatness.

It seems that the first people to set foot in the ancient Nepal were Aryans. The Aryans' basic beliefs are recorded in the Vedas, a collection of over one thousand religious hymns that were to form the foundation of the polytheistic religion of Hinduism.

Hinduism has a basic trinity of three gods-Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Most Hindus, while revering Brahma, do not usually include his worship in religious ceremonies as his role in the universe is regarded to be essentially completed. Vishnu and Shiva, however, are very important to all the Nepalese Hindus.

Vishnu, whose primary duty is to assure the preservation of the world and all living forms, is believed to have visited the earth ten times as "avatars" or incarnations. He is also believed to have come to the earth as a Varaha, as Prince Rama, as the god Krishna and as Lord Gautam Buddha.

Shiva, the Destroyer, is believed to have three forms-Natraj the god of artistic skill, an anthropomorphic form and the Lingam form, the latter being the most famous Lingam is situated in the north-west of Katmandu. In front of any Shiva temple, one usually sees a statue of Nandi, the divine bull that serves as Shiva's vehicle. In anthropomorphic form, Shiva is depicted with his consort Parbati and usually holds a trident and a small drum. Another popular form of Shiva is terrifying Bhairav, who himself has a number of different forms. somany other this is only for example
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It is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage spot situated 5km east of Kathmandu, the temple of Lord Shiva. The richly ornamented pagoda houses, the scared linga, or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva fascinates everyone. There are also small temples dedicated to other deities. The temple was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Monument List in 1979.

Although only Hindus are allowed inside the temple, visitors can clearly see the temple and the activities performed in the temple from the eastern bank of Bagmati River. Locals have long regarded it as a very important part of the city, both religiously and culturally. Basically thousand of pilgrims from Nepal and India pay homage to this temple everyday. Locals daily worship and receive blessing from lord Shiva early in the morning. Near the temple at the edge of Bagmati River lies "Arya Ghat" where cremation is performed. There is also a large market in the streets surrounding the temple.
Swayambhu Nath Stupa:
Golden statues
Swayambhu Nath Stupa is 3km west of Kathmandu city situated on a hillock about 77m above the sea level of the Kathmandu valley. It is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal and the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal. Both Hindus and Buddhists worship here. It is said to be 2,000years old. It was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Monument List in 1979.

A large image of Buddha is in a monastery next to the stupa. It is also known as the Monkey temple, and the major landmark in the valley. From the top of a hillock on its western side it provides an excellent viewpoint over Kathmandu.