Oh, the crowds! It is a Saturday picnic in the middle of Kathmandu. People sit on blankets, eating and chatting. Dogs chase each other or their tails. Children chase pigeons and each other. All the commotion is to celebrate the completion of restoration of the Boudanath stupa, after the devastating 7.8 Richter’s magnitude earthquake in April 2015. The community celebrates because restoration was a community effort, in a country where the government is very slow in rebuilding the premises of people’s lives. We joined the Tibetan monks in red robes in the kora, or circling of the stupa. In Nepal, every sacred Buddhist site must be circled clockwise. This means quite a lot of circumnavigations of mani stones, sacred stones with inscriptions, often sprinkled on popular trekking routes in the mountains. But this time the kora was celebratory. People spun prayer bells and walked along the shiny white wall accompanied only by their own thoughts.
In time, stupas break, and if the underlying faith they stand on still exists in the community, they are rebuilt. In time, we all break, like the Boudanath stupa: with a huge gash along the middle. But life goes on. Like it tends to do. And, even when it does not feel like it, life carries us along with it. All we need to do is remember how to breathe, and how to live together as a caring community. Different from the stupas, we can heal ourselves. But very few of us can ever completely heal when left alone.
(Kathmandu, Nepal; November 2016)