Lumbini, birthplace of the Buddha, a place of reflection

To think that in a rundown area of mud huts and struggling farmers there was once an empire of wealthy kings, for millennia, the first three Buddhas and then the historical Buddha of 2500 years ago were born near here.

These were civilizations that could mill a massive stone pillar to such a smooth even surface. These pillars commemorate the births of ordinary humans who came to live in an enlightened state to inspire others. Here were born individuals whose teachings could change the world, here in these districts of rundown roads, houses, and families in mud huts.

Here was a time and a place and a young man who turned his back on the princely comfort of his life to find a way to seek a more universal truth. That we will all go old if we are lucky, we all will suffer and we all will die.

In the Kapilvastu ruins is the west gate from where he departed the palace and princely comfort. Now it is ruins of walls in the dust. A big tree and then acres of ruins. I wonder what conditions the ordinary people lived in.

Were they in mud huts or brick houses? What was the society where he lived and the way of life for the ordinary person?

Lumbini is now a place so sacred to Buddhists from so many countries that have built temples here.

Copyright on all photographs (c)Frances Klatzel 2022

Samayak: Walking with the Buddhas among us

Again after four years, it is time for the Samayak when all the households with special Buddhist statues in Patan bring them to the big squares in the middle of the old city. The last Samayak was in 2016, just months after the earthquake. A couple of the temples damaged then have since been rebuilt.

First each household brings their ‘deity’ out to the front of their home on the street, where they offer prayers for the journey and gathering. The statues might be any size from six inches tall to huge heads over four feet tall that are worn by a man carrying them. Needless to say, many other family members help guide him on the journey through the streets.

Then, the Buddhas assemble in Patan Durbar Square before moving over to the Nag Bahal Square where tens of thousands of people come the next day to offer their prayers and devotion. The queues to enter the the courtyard stretch for blocks along the nearby road.

Come twilight on the second day, after a procession by the elders of the community, the Buddhas head home with crowds lining the lanes and reaching out to touch the statues as they pass. After a brief rest outside the home or temple, the statues are returned to their secluded homes. Portions of the offerings are shared with community members sitting and waiting in rows