[We post here today, a travelogue by Joan Stanley-Baker, Emeritus Professor of Art History specializing in Chinese Fine Arts at Tainan National University in Taiwan. Basically, she comes from British Columbia, Canada and recently was a team member of the Buddha Boy’s ‘spiritual entourage’ from Sindhupalchowk, Nepal’s central hill district to Lamjung, the country’s one of the west hill districts, for a special puja this February 22-27, 2014. We understand the Buddha Boy has not received yet as much ‘reception’ as anticipated from local media but her account describes the ‘religious guru’s popularity has grown leaps and bounds in the country and abroad as well. It seems Nepal has begun benefiting also from the ‘holy guru’s being there as multitudes of devotees from around the world fly into the county day and night. Nepal’s tourism promotion, jobs creation and economic development etc. get some boost seemingly .– Editor]
FEBRUARY 22-27, 2014 ‘LAMJUNG MAITRI PUJA’ FOR WORLD PEACE
By Joan Stanley-Baker PhD*
In the Village of Khudi at the foot of the Himalayas, the eye can reach directly onto the snow capped peaks of Manasulu towering over 8163M above sea level, in an illusion of being only three or four kilometres away. This is the site of the last puja of the Nepali year, held in the District of Lamjung in northwest Nepal on the border of Tibetan. Devotees were gathering from everywhere. From Nepal – they arrived from Manang, Mustang, Pokhara lake, Kaski, Gorkha, Tanau, Dading, Kathmandu, Kirtipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kavry, Nuwakot, Sindupalchowk, Ramechhap, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Sarlahi, Sindhuli, etc. Devotees from the far distant mountain region of Mustang travelled across the great ranges taking more than three days for their journey. There were also Indian devotees came from Sikkim and Darjeeling among other places.
The air, as in most of the highlands of Nepal, is cold in the morning and evening, getting sun during the day, warming the breeze. But here in Khudi, the air seems especially fresh, brushing down from the highest peaks of the world, and quickens the heart with a strong feeling of being in the presence of the divine. Devotees who have attended many of the Maitri Guru’s Pujas, agree that there was something rather special about the Lamjung Puja.
For this puja, the Maitri Guru had left his mountain retreat of Badegaun in Sindhupalchowk on the morning of February 19th to travel with his immediate entourage for ten hours by jeep to Lamjung. From the very beginning atop the mountain in Badegaun, there were already twenty cars waiting to be part of a convoy and, when they reached the town of Sipaghad below, it seemed that more than thirty cars were waiting, and untold motorcycles ready to brave the long journey along the bumpy and dusty Nepali roads. Along the way, motorcycles and private cars seemingly out of nowhere, continued to join the motorcade, growing at an alarming rate even as devotees appeared standing in bare feet along the roadside with offerings of flowers, candles and incense, khatas and fruit, patiently waiting for the Guru. At times in certain populated towns the road ahead became completely blocked by devotees where nothing could pass, often requiring the gentle assistance of the local police. The vehicles continued to multiply as the day wore on, and the roaring wheeled assemblage came to stretch long and wide for kilometres, creating a veritable spectacle all along the roads leading to the large town of Chabel where about 700 devotees were waiting. There was a joyous celebratory mood among one and all. And whenever passing villages and towns, there were groups of devotees gathered along the road with flowers and other offerings to greet Guru’s passage and hoping for a glimpse of the beloved face, possibly even a blessing. Read the rest of this entry »