Bob Travels: At the temple in Kathmandu

by Bob Putman, editor

While in Nepal (August 28-September 8) to report on earthquake relief efforts and the fastest-growing church movement in the world, our team visited the Pashupatinath Hindu temple in Kathmandu.

There, we teased monkeys playing in the trees and tried to stay clear of people hawking Hindu medallions, necklaces and bracelets. Our purpose was to witness a Hindu cremation ceremony. It was something one never forgets.

As we stood along the riverbank, where the ashes are eventually dumped, we watched a young man on the steps across the water preparing a body. The dead man had been wrapped in cloths and laid upon a stack of wood. The preparer poured a mix of melted butter, incense, spices and cow urine―temple offerings―into the man’s mouth and lit it. (The purpose is to cleanse the lips so the dead one may fare better in his next incarnation.) Then the young man poured oil over the body. The fire began to spread.

He stacked logs atop the corpse and poured more oil on them. Soon a thick black smoke billowed across the water. We moved on.

In front of the main temple we watched as a family laid out an older woman, who had probably died in the past two or three hours. (Hindus are required to cremate the dead within 24 hours.) A middle-aged woman in their midst wailed inconsolably for at least half an hour. Her family tried to calm her, but she could not be quieted. It reminded me of the wailing mourners in the Bible. As they began to pour the melted-butter offering into her mouth, the depressing scene continued. Again we walked away.

Several on our team took pictures of a line of stupas, each with the same idols representing male and female reproductive organs. I shuddered to think of people, for more than 500 years, bowing before these stupas to worship. A picture of perfect hopelessness.

I stopped to pose with a painted Hindu priest there for the ceremonies. Then we quickly returned to our van, hounded by hawkers as we walked and drove away.

Help start a church in Nepal now.

    Point - September 2018

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