Life, Death & Primates

The website for Pashupati Temple talks of “death being present in almost every ritual and every corner of it”. It sounds ominous, especially from a Eurocentric value system where death is often whispered about in solemn circumstances, but Pashupati is a menagerie of life set in an environment where death is deeply accepted.

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The temple lies on the banks of the Bagmati River that feeds the Ganges. It’s a world heritage site and is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in Nepal.

Bodies are burned on pyres lining the river from 6am to 10pm at night (above picture) and the remaining ashes are then pushed into the river.

The temple confronts death on many levels. Elderly people will journey there weeks in advance to prepare for their death. Hindu people will arrive from all corners of Nepal and India to die at Pashupati.

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Sadhu’s, the wandering ascetic yogis, adopt their daily positions in the temple grounds and their life (in a nutshell) is the attempt to become liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth.

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Elderly people will pilgrimage to Pashupati to prepare for their death weeks in advance.

Monkeys, hundreds of them, live at the temple. Like the human on lookers, they observe the daily undertakings of life and death as it passes through Pashupati.

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