In a country now famous for having no electricity, how is it that "a short circuit" around midnight caused a serious fire at the Sri Bagalamukhi temple in Patan Sunday night (March 16), destroying much of the carved-wooden pagoda style temple?
""The temple uses too many lights, which can sometime lead to short-circuits,"" an officer at Nepal Electricity Authority's Pulchowk office said."
Minor detail: There's no f**king electricity.
Bagalamukhi, one of the 10 Tantric Wisdom goddesses, is depicted as standing atop a demon, beating him down while snatching his tongue out of his mouth to silence him.
This image is sometimes interpreted as an exhibition of stambhana, the power to stun or paralyze one’s enemy into silence. This is one of the boons for which Bagalamukhi’s devotees worship her.
(her mantra translates as):
...Oh Goddess, paralyze the speech and feet of all evil people. Pull their tongue, destroy their intellect.
Perhaps, the Devi's own comment on suppression of the free press here in Nepal.
Shortly thereafter, the unbearable six-month dry spell finally broke, first with a smattering of rain on Wednesday night. The next day brought nothing but tantalizing rumbles of thunder and dry cracks of lightning. Thursday night, the electricity (which had gone off at 12 midnight) suddenly came BACK on at 12 again, only for a moment...then switched back off.
It wasn't till Friday afternoon we found out that Father John K. Locke, Jesuit scholar and father of Newar Buddhist studies, had died at precisely that time; midnight on Thursday night.
On Friday night I got another unpleasant surprise, in the form of my first Nepali groping. This one was a drive-by - two young men on a motorbike decided to take advantage of their speed and anonymity by grabbing my right breast as they sped past. Such incidents are well known and much-discussed among Indian travellers. Nepal, land of the Buddha and Tantra, is becoming another place where women have to go into Purdah - even in the middle of the tourist zone.
We still hadn't gotten a proper rain till Saturday afternoon, when it finally soaked the thirsty ground thoroughly.
The traditional rain god of the Valley is Rato Matchhendranath ("red lord of the fishes"); his worship is mandatory to bring the much-needed rains. Now that Nepal is "secular," I guess we have to worship Rato Prachandranath. He's the new Red God. Rather than being pulled round in a chariot, he's driven round in a limousine.
Related reading: Chinnamasta: The Aweful (sic) Buddhist and Hindu Tantric Goddess. (book reviews): An article from: The Journal of the American Oriental Society
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