Travel Notes from Losar, Boudhanath, Nepal
After three failed attempts, i have finally succeeded in going to Losar. Losar is the equivalent to chinese new year, and a super mega Tibetan holiday. Many buddhist pilgrims come to places like Bhouda and Swayambhu to celebrate as they look forward to a year of utmost blessings to come.
Again, it was a last minute decision. I've just spent four hours looking for places to go at the lobby of Kathmandu City Hotel when Lamsal, hotel manager and owner, introduced me to his friends. After speaking of my disappointment to them and not going to Losar in time, they suggested i go now to Bhouda for today is the big day. Without hesitation, i left my two backpacks, and carried my duffel to Bhouda. I circled the stupa for thirteen times before deciding to stay at Comfort Guest House. The room is huge with two big beds, the windows are intricately carved, facing some butter lamps stowed for the night. The WiFi of the hotel didn't work, but the guest house next door was working perfectly fine, and i have acquired their signal. The only problem is there is no attached bathroom, and going to the loo in the middle of the night is a bummer. Since there was no electricity, so was the light to the stairs, and the bathroom itself.
I paid 700 rupees for a room, not bad, for a one night stand.
Losar started out quite nicely, and as hours pass by, more and more people came. Most of the devotees wore elaborate costumes, and Tibetan formal wear. I've learned that this day, many people came and dressed sharply for the new year. Later afternoon, a truck generator came, and in a few minutes, the largest stupa in Nepal was now lighted in assortment of candy colors. I've been to Boudhanath at least four times, and this is the only time i was here at night and when it is well-lit.
I stopped by Himalayan Cafe for dinner, and enjoyed the breezy night. Two young locals were making out in one corner, as an 80's love song was being played. It didn't bother me, but knowing that we're in front of a holy place seems to make me frown a little. Somehow, i got confused whether the day was Losar or valentine's day. Either way, may be the couple wanted to start the year with an action, eh?
Since i was staying inside the Boudhanath complex for the night, i had the luxury of time. I circled the stupa a few more times, and discovered Tibetan monks playing the local instrument as devotees gave biscuits, pop corns, flowers, etc. in a mountain of offering. The incense has filled the air, and more people came at night to worship.
A little after 9 o'clock, and the crowd of hundreds has slowly left. By this time, i was seated to one of the benches fronting the stupa. Beside me is a huge dog, two foreign dharma students, and a mad person seated on the stoned floors. Maybe, i was destined to sit here at this very same spot so i can fully realize what Losar really means. I don't understand the concept of the Tibetan New Year, as obviously, i am not Tibetan or Buddhist. Earlier, i saw hundreds of devotees giving out food as offering. And this mad person beside me is eating rotten food. And the worse part is, he has no clean drinking water. I gave the man my spare unsealed bottled water. I always buy two before heading to my hotel. Suddenly, i feel that Losar means so much more than celebrating the coming year dressed to impress. It is about celebrating kindness of people. Buddha pronounces to spread kindness to people. Yet, this man who has been here since morning, has only eaten once.
I didn't talk to him nor did i give instructions. I left the bottled water and nodded like a Nepali. I came back a few minutes later, and the water is more than halfway finished already. I've never been so happy. I feel that my trips has been really, really rewarding spiritually.
Yes. I saw the amazing stupa of Boudha lit up at night, and spending this special new year, with hundreds of pilgrims from around Tibet and China, while inhaling thick smokes of incense sticks, seeing thousands of candles lit up was a definite Losar experience. But spending the night at Boudha was extra special because i found a glimpse of enlightenment so unexpectedly.