My first thought upon seeing the theme for this week’s challenge was the many historic sites I’ve visited over the years. As I looked through photos, thinking to choose a cross section, I realised that in one country particularly, endurance is truly represented.
It is said that 2,000 years ago the Kathmandu Valley was filled with a large lake at the centre of which floated a lotus flower. The Bodhisattva Manjusri slashed the lake with his sword, causing it to drain. The lotus settled at the top of a hill and from it grew Swayambhunath Temple – one of Nepal’s oldest Buddhist Temples.
The Kathmandu Valley was the crossroads of Southeast Asia and an incredible religious mix grew out of Hindhuism, Buddhism and the local Animist beliefs. When the Raj began in India, Nepal withstood it. In return, she was made smaller, but still she stood firm – ambassadors and royal visitors were allowed, footholds on power were not. In the 1950s, Nepal finally opened her borders, allowing tourists to visit, to experience a culture that remained much as it had since time immemorial, largely untouched by foreign influences. With such a long history of Buddhism, it is perhaps understandable that so many Tibetans would flee to Nepal in 1959 when the Dalai Lama took his government and people into exile.
While they settled in many areas of the country, the largest concentration of Tibetan refugees settled around Boudhanath Stupa. Built at some point in the 14th century, Boudhanath is one of the oldest stupas (legend says it was built not long after the Lord Buddha died). Shaped like a massive mandala, it is the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist site outside Tibet and is the cultural home of Tibetans in Kathmandu. It bustles with life, surrounded by shops, guest houses and small alleys leading to more Buddhist temples and shops.
A country born in the mists of legend embraces all local religions and then those fleeing from oppression.
In Nepal today, Tibetans are not even allowed to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday, but they embody his life simply by living and thriving in their own lives. Truly, this is endurance, encompassed by an enduring nation and culture.
For more insights into endurance visit: DP WordPress Photo Challenge – Endurance