Nepal — Photographing Pashupatinath

Photographing Pashupatinath

Their feet are laved with holy water.

They receive from mourners’ cupped hands

a last drink from the sacred river.

They lie, wrapped in white and saffron, under

Indra’s blue heaven. Gods, priests and loved ones cluster

round them. Temple roofs cascade;  incense curls

upward; upward curls Ganesh’s trunk; the third eye

repeats;  repeats, in vermilion tikka;  mala

emotes its sharp golden smell. I wish

I could take each camera and break it.

Here is the place where the dead make

their journey from one world to the other,

where mourners stoop to their work,

tend to mother, father, sister or brother.

I’d like to push those who pose for photos

into the sacred river, watch them flounder.

I hear prayers

and chanting as a body is moved

to its funeral pyre. Photographers

make pixils of the sacred rite.

Two days earlier

I dreamt

my father stood by water,

a wharf nearby.  What’s it like to be dead

I asked him.  It’s OK he replied, in a tone

of faint surprise, almost as though

he’d expected to feel otherwise.

I want to tell the ones who snap photos

that my father stands at the Baghmati.

They can’t see him but he is there.

On his journey from this world

to the next he stopped in Kathmandu

to stand at the sacred river,

to tell me it is OK to be dead.

Please  put away your camera



About annewlindsay

I don't go 'first class'. I can't afford to and even if I could I think I would still choose to travel as I do. I think you meet a more interesting class of people if you use local transportation and just take your chances. I'm getting restless again. Hope to meet you on the bus or train.
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