KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Oct. 23, 2011 — Everyone is here!
Everyone arrived in Kathmandu on schedule. Argon, Steve’s driver and I met them at the airport. It is great to have everyone here!
We are fortunate to be in Nepal during one of their most important holidays. Tihar, the festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond.
This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to Tihar as ‘Panchak Yama’ which literally means ‘the five days of the underworld lord’. We also worship ‘Yamaraj’ in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity.
Goddess Laxmi is the wife of almighty Lord Vishnu. She was formed from the ocean and she has all the wealth of the seas. She sits on a full-grown lotus and her steed is the owl. On the third day of the festival at the stroke of midnight she makes a world tour on her owl looking how she is worshiped.
There is a story, which tells why this revelry is celebrated so widely. Once there was a king who was living his last days of life. His astrologer had told him that a serpent would come and take his life away. The king did not want to die so he has asked the astrologer if there was any way to escape death. The king was advised to sleep with lit oil lamps all around his bed and decorate the palace with oil lamps on Laxmi puja day. So goddess Laxmi would talk to the serpent not to take his life. It did happen, the serpent was convinced by goddess Laxmi. The serpent took the king to Yama Raj and told him that it was not yet the king’s time to come to the underworld. So Yama Raj opened his ledger and in it the kings remaining age was written zero, but the serpent cleverly put seven before zero. Thus the king lived for seventy more years. So onwards tihar is widely celebrated worshiping the underworld and goddess Laxmi.
Last night, Steve joined us for dinner and gave us an orientation to Nepal and our trip. Before breakfast, Carolyn and I walked out the back garden gate of the Hyatt to visit Boudhanath Temple. We saw early morning pilgrams walking clockwise around the sacred stupa. We both love dogs and couldn’t resist taking pictures of them too.
The picture above, is our first morning breakfast at the Hyatt in Kathmandu. We had dinner with Steve Webster the night before. We are off to a full day of sight seeing in Kathmandu with Sohan, our guide. The picture below is of the Hilton. We will spend two nights here.
Steve welcomed us and gave oriented us to Nepal and our schedule.
I’ve know Steve for several years. He lead a trek I took with Wilderness Travel to the Everest Region in 2004, just after 9/11. He is from England and has lived in Nepal with his wife and children for about 20 years.