Bara District, Nepal
It's been a star week - seeing both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa. Now, to cap it all off, Ram Bomjom (the "Buddha Boy") is back!
I was lucky enough to see the saint-in-the-making about a year ago, while he was still in place meditating under a giant banyan tree near Nijgadh. Last March he disappeared, citing too much disturbance in his practices caused by all the attention. There were rumours of his reappearance a few months ago.
"I have been wandering in the forests since then," Shrestha quoted Bamjon as telling him.
"I am engaged in devotion which will continue for six years," the boy told Shrestha.
Now, he has re-emerged again in southern Nepal. Read all about it here.
Feed the Ghosts
Monlam (Tibetan for "aspiration") ceremonies start tomorrow. Today the Mahabodhi Temple was full of priests chanting ground-blessing mantras in preparation. Nuns in maroon robes were busy arranging flowers and hired Indian workers were stringing marigolds and banners all over the various chortens and sculptures surrounding the temple.
The torma (ritual cake-offerings) on display were nothing short of mind-blowingly psychedelic - vast landscapes, mythological figures, gods, saints and ritual implements all fashioned out of barley flour, food colouring and sculpted butter. Each torma was about four and half-feet high. These cakes and other foodstuffs are offered to satiate the "hungry ghosts" that gather around all spiritual places - disembodied spirits hoping for help on the other side. I have tasted lots of torma; it's sort of like eating sugary Play-Do. Mmm-mmm, that's some good ghost-eatin'!
Oh yeah, back home in Nepal we also have a new national emblem.
Here is the new one, which very wisely incorporates Mt Everest, and appears to include a red-wristbanded hand shaking a non-banded one. Way to go to legitimize the Maoists.
Here is the old national crest. It incorporates a modern Gurkha soldier, a traditional soldier of ancient times, mountains, the royal crown, crossed khukri knives, rhododendrons, national flags, Sun and Moon, footprints of Gorakhnath (patron deity of Gorkha, the king's homeland), and a few other things I can't make out.
Whoops, after three tries it still won't upload. It must be time to sign off.