Tuesday, January 15, 2008

350,000,000 gods.

fun facts for the day:
-hindus believe in over 350,000,000 gods. there is a god for pretty everything you could possibly imagine.
-there are 65,000 peaks over 6,500 m in nepal. no one has bothered to count them all.

6,500 meters?? it's true. i'm pretty sure the tallest mountain in montana is around 3,500 (many of you probably know the actual height of mt. cleveland, but it is passing my mind right now). this and many other fun facts were given to us today by Guru, (yes, really his name) and BOY did he live up to that. our personal "man of knowledge", he first gave us 3 hours of language and then 9834753 hours of sightseeing. not really, but after a while rebecca and i were both very overwhelmed, but altogether VERY informed. i honestly can't believe some of the things we saw today. it made me reach back to my arts of japan days (alex, it's coming in handy!!) as well as the eastern philosophy class from high school. we visited three temples, one buddhist, one hindu, and one where both philosophies are welcome. nepal is a country that embraces both religions equally (fancy that, we could learn a thing or two), most likely becuase they share so many gods and ideas.

probably the most interesting thing we witnessed today were funeral ceremonies at the last temple we went to (can't recall the name right now...started with a P). the temple complex is one of four holy locations that hindus must visit in their lifetimes, much like mecca. the funeral ceremony provided a strange juxtaposition of holy ritual and modern squalor. the ceremonies take place on a riverbank, were the body is lain on a pile of wood and then cremated, and the ashes are then swept into the river below. the river is mostly dried up due to damming upsteam, and right across from the funeral sites children wash dishes and play in the water.

the temples were beautiful though, some of the lingas (which Guru aptly described as interpretaions of our "secret parts" ...haha, they are symbols of fertility) were from the 9th century, and perhaps before- no one is really sure. tomorrow we head off to chitwan to the orphan home! we're taking the "tourist" bus, which is evidently slightly better than the local bus, but rebecca and i did not get tickets in time, or the bus was full or something, so we have to ride above the engine. not really sure what that means. but we shall see!! much love!