Fifteen Months Later at Manakamana

Fatigue of the fieldwork

The fieldwork was going on in its rapid pace. We barely had time to rest. On Wednesday, October 31, fieldwork had been set for “individual” areas. Each of six groups were in separate routes looking for the geology of the area around Mugling, Chitwan. We (Anil, Anish, Ishwor and I) were walking up to a small village called Sathimure. On top of the hill in the north east, we could see a bazaar. “Is it Manakamana?” we had discussed. “It is Manakamana, indeed,” the villagers had later confirmed.

“If we get to go Manakamana tomorrow, can we walk all the way up?”

It would have been difficult. The way to Sathimure had proven to be tiring. We were bathed in sweat the whole climb.

May be fatigue, may be disinterest, we didn’t actually want to go Manakamana. There were other friends, who were absolutely excited about the climb. My experience fifteen months earlier had made me sad. But I had seen a photo of my sister-in-law in front of the newly made temple. Aha! The temple has changed! I had thought but still I didn’t have the desire.

The Lottery

In the evening, our teachers announced the six routes to be taken the other day. Two groups were to take the routes that included Manakamana. The first route was: Aanbu Khaireni-Manakamana-Arubot-Tinkilo. The second route was: Aanbu Khaireni-Manakamana-Kurintar. To avoid dissatisfaction, our teachers suggested a lottery. Anil picked up a cheat and we got the first route. Despite having no desire to go, the Mother had called us.

The Journey

Selfie at Marsyangdi Bridge / Photo from Nirjal Pokharel’s Facebook

As soon as you cross the Marsyangi Bridge at Aanbu Khaireni, you step into the Gorkha district. Then taking a dusty road to the north, you head towards the famous Manakamana Temple. After we separated with other groups at the bridge, eight of us took the road to Manakamana.

Geological study began as soon as we reached near the confluence of Marsyangdi and Daraudi. We took some data and set off again. As per the instruction from our teacher, we took shorter routes asking the villagers. Some of the foot-trails are not being used due to the bigger road.

Short roads were not so short though. We climbed up and up. As we went higher, the mist thinned and we were up above the clouds. On the north were the mighty white Himalayas. “People must have been to a place like this and called it a Paradise,” we wondered.

At Dhadbari (?), we left the motor road and climbed up the stairs to the temple. On the way, we bought flowers and Prasad. The climb took more than half an hour. We were all fatigued.

The New Temple

The new structure of the temple was enough for me to forget my tiredness. The two storied pagoda now had new brick walls and two golden roofs. On the top, is a golden pinnacle. I am mesmerized. I can’t believe the change that had occurred.

Fifteen months ago

Fifteen months ago, I had seen a broken temple. It was distressing. I had written an account showing my pain. Now fifteen months later, I was standing before the temple praising the grandeur of the Mother.

The New Structure
Worshipping still continues in the small temple. The floor is still being tiled.

The new structure has not been a temple yet. The Mother still stays in the small temple built after the Gorkha earthquake. “Isn’t she established in it yet?” my parents ask on Saturday after I am home. “It was supposed to happen during Dashain.”

“Maybe they did not find an auspicious date,” I say.

***

Fifteen months ago, I had been so sad that I had asked for the reconstruction of the temple as soon as possible. I had also doubted on the powers of the Mother. I had asked, “If the Goddess cannot make Her own home, how do I believe asked?”

This time, I believe the Mother called me to show that She has a new home. I believe She made me write this so that I could tell to the world the change I had seen. I don’t see any other reason why my group was selected despite having no desire at all to visit Her abode.

***

Time was tight. We had miles to go. Taking several snaps, our groups took our respective routes.

A group photo / Left to Right: Ishwor, Nirjal, Me, Angela, Sujata, Suman, Anish, Anil / From Nirjal Pokharel’s Facebook
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पन्ध्र महिनापछि फेरि मनकामना पुग्दा

फिल्डवर्कको थकान

शनिबार, कार्तिक १० बाट सुरु भएको फिल्डवर्क रफ्तारका साथ चल्दै थियो । बुधबार दिउँसो मुग्लिङबाट दक्षिणमा रहेको साठीमुरे गाउँ पुगेका थियौँ अनिल, अनिश, ईश्वर र म । झन्डै चार घण्टा ठाडो उकालो चढ्दै गर्दा ठीक पारी पट्टीको डाँडोमा ठूलो बजार देखिएको थियो । मनकामना बजार हो त ? हामी एकअर्कालाई सोध्दै हिँडेका थियौँ । साठीमुरेका बासिन्दाले त्यो मनकामना बजार नै हो भनेका थिए ।

त्यहाँबाट मनकामना बजार झन्डै उस्तै उचाईमा छ भन्ने लागेको थियो । “भोलि मनकामनातिर पर्‍यो भने त हिँड्न गाह्रो हुन्छ,” सल्लाह गरेका थियौँ । यसपालि एम. एस्सी. पहिलो सेमेस्टरको फिल्ड आँबुखैरेनी परेको थियो । मनकामनाको “रुट” दुई टोलीलाई पर्ने कुरा थियो ।

थकानले गर्दा हो वा पहिल्यै गएकाले हो या अघिल्लो साल देखेको दुरावस्थाले हो, मनकामना जाने इच्छा खासै थिएन हाम्रो ग्रुपको कसैलाई । इच्छुक ती साथीहरू थिए जो पहिले गएका थिएनन् । अघिल्लो साँझ फेसबुक चलाउँदै गर्दा देखेको एउटा तस्वीरले मन केहीबेर तरङ्गित भने बनाएको थियो । “ओहो, मन्दिरको रूप त बदलिएछ” भन्दै खुसी भएको थिएँ । जाने लालसा भने पलाएको थिएन ।

चिट्ठा

बेलुका गुरुहरूले भोलिपल्टको रुटको जानकारी दिनुभयो । मनकामना पुग्ने दुई टोलीका लागि दुई रुट छुट्याइएको थियो । पहिलो रुट थियो । आँबुखैरेनीबाट मनकामना पुग्ने अनि त्यहाँबाट गोर्खा जिल्लाको आरुबोट, ज्यामिरे हुँदै तीनकिलो झर्ने । अर्को थियो, मनकामना पुगेर कुरिनटार झर्ने । मनकामनासम्म दुई टोली सँगै हुने थिए ।

मनकामना जाने रहर प्रायः सबै ग्रुपले गरेकाले चिट्ठा गर्ने सहमति भयो । अनिलले हाम्रोतर्फबाट चिट्ठा थुत्यो । मनकामनाको पहिलो रुट परेछ । अरू ग्रुपलाई पनि उनीहरूको इच्छा र क्षमता अनुसारको रुट परेछ । “माताको इच्छा होला,” मैले भनेको थिएँ ।

यात्रा

मर्स्याङ्दी पुल सेल्फी / निर्जल पोखरेलको फेसबुकबाट / बायाँबाट दायाँ: पहिलो हार – अनिल,एन्जिला, अनिश, अशोक – दोस्रो हार – निर्जल, दीपक,अस्मी, म, ईश्वर, सुजाता -पर- सुमन

आँबुखैरेनीको मर्स्याङ्दी पुल तरेपछि गोर्खा जिल्ला टेकिन्छ । त्यहाँबाट अरू साथीहरूसँग बिदा भएपछि हाम्रो टोली र निर्जल दाइको टोली दरौँदी तरेर उकालो लाग्यौँ । चट्टान देखिएको सडाक किनारमा काम सुरु भयो । केही डाटा लिएत अघि बढ्यौँ, सरहरूको निर्देशनअनुसार स्थानीयसँग छोटो बाटो सोध्दै ।

छोटो बाटो पनि छोटो कहाँ थियो र ? स्याँस्याँ फ्याँफ्याँ गर्दै उकालो चढ्यौँ । बाटोमा चट्टान धेरै भेटिएनन् । जति भेटिए ती तलका भन्दा खासै फरक थिएनन् । बरू धुलोको रङ्ग हेरेर तलको माटो कस्तो होला भनेर अनुमान गर्‍यौँ । डाटा लिने परिस्थिति भने थिएन ।

डाँडा चढ्दै गर्दा तल नदीले बनएको कुहिरो हट्दै गयो । सात-आठ सय मिटर माथी पुगेपछि बादल हामीभन्दा तल तैरिएको देखियो । उत्तरमा देखिए, सेता हिमाल । बाटा छेउमा सुन्तलाका बोट । केही दिनअघि बन्दीपुर जाँदा पनि यस्तो दृश्य देखिएको थियो । त्यही पनि “यस्तै ठाउँलाई स्वर्ग भनिँदो हो,” हामी कल्पित भयौँ ।

मनकामना पुग्नै लाग्दा हामीले मोटर बाटो छोड्यौँ अनि सिँडी चढ्यौँ । सुन्तला खाँदै माथि चढ्यौँ । फूलप्रसाद लिएर फेरि चढ्यौँ । सिँढी चढेर माथी पुग्न झन्डै आधा घन्टा लाग्यो ।

मन्दिरको बदलिएको स्वरूप

अगस्ट २, २०१७ तिर गोर्खा मनकामना शीर्षकको यात्रा संस्मरण लेख्दा साह्रै पीडा भएको थियो । त्यसबेला मन्दिरको अवस्था देखेर विचलित भएको थिएँ । भाग्यले भनौँ या माताको प्रभावले, मौका जुर्‍यो । साथीहरूसँग म पनि मनकामना पुगेँ, ठीक पन्ध्र महिनापछि ।

पन्ध्र महिना पहिले

पहिले जस्ता बेरेर, खट बाँधेर जीर्णाव्स्थामा देखेको “मन्दिर”को ठाउँमा अहिले लोभलाग्दो संरचना छ । ईँटको भित्तामाथि सुनको छाना छन् । अनि दोस्रो तलाको छानामाथि सुनकै गजुर । दिउँसो घाममा मन्दिर झन् टल्केको छ । मन्दिरको संरचना पुरानो छ तर सामग्री सबै नयाँ । पुरानै प्रकारका सामग्री राखेको भए पुरानै जस्तो देखिन्थ्यो भन्ने बिचार पछि मनमा आउँछ । त्यहाँ भने म निस्तब्ध हुन्छु; मन्दिरको सुन्दरताले मोहित ।

IMG_1841

मनकामनाको नयाँ मन्दिर

नयाँ संरचनाभित्र देवीको स्थापना भइसकेको छैन । गोर्खा भुकम्प (२०७२) पछि बनाइएको अस्थायी मन्दिरमा नै क्षमापूजा गरेर देवी बसाइएको छ । शनिबार (कार्तिक १७) मा घर आएपछि मामूबाबा भन्नुहुन्छ, “यही दशैँमा स्थापना गर्ने कुरा थियो त ।”

“जुरेन होला,” म भन्छु । मैले देखेको दृश्यका आधारमा निस्किएको निष्कर्ष त्यही हो ।

IMG_1843
भूकम्प यता पूजाका लागि बनाइएको सानो मन्दिर / भुइँमा टाइल छाप्ने काम भइरहेको छ

***
अघिल्लो साल मनकामना मन्दिरको दुरावस्था देखेर विचलित भएको मैले मन्दिरको पुनर्निर्माण छिट्टै होस् भनेर कामना गरेको थिएँ । उहाँको शक्तिमाथि प्रश्न र गुनासो पनि पोखेको थिएँ । यसपालि माताको बोलावट भयो । सायद उहाँले मलाई आफ्नो सामर्थ्य देखाउन बोलाउनु भयो । अनि यो लेख लेखाउन पनि नत्र त्यति धेरै उत्सुक साथीहरूको बीचबाट मेरो ग्रुप किन छानियो ?

मनकामना माताको नयाँ मन्दिर हेरिरहने मन थियो तर समयको पावन्दी पनि थियो । तीनकिलोसम्म पुग्न कति हिँड्नुपर्ने हो ? थाहा थिएन । तैपनि दुई ग्रुपका अनगिन्ती फोटो खिचेर हामी आआफ्नो रुटतर्फ लाग्यौँ

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धेरै मध्येको एक ग्रुप फोटो / बायाँबाट दायाँ: ईश्वर, निर्जल, म, एन्जिला, सुजाता, सुमन, अनिश, अनिल / निर्जल पोखरेलको फेसबुकबाट

Dashain, October 10 and Some thoughts

Dashain, Nepal’s biggest festival, began on the first day of October. Almost all Nepalese festivals are based on Lunar Calendar. So, this was an unusual coincidence. But we don’t commonly use the English calendar. (We call it English. Is it Roman? I’m confused!) You know, it went unnoticed, at least to me, until now.

The second day of Dashain marks the beginning of  Navaratri- the nine days (or nights?). Navaratri literally means nine nights but we worship nine Goddesses these nine days. I’m really confused by the definition.


The Goddesses we worship are the representatives of Nature and Mothers, we say. However, some people kill female foetuses because they want sons. Men believe sons carry on their races. Do they really? 

Genetically  speaking, a son gets a Y-chromosome from their father and an X-chromosome from their (This singular “their” is confusing me now!) mother. Geneticists say, “Y-chromosome is almost empty. Most of the characters in a son are related to their (singular, again!) mother.” While daughters have two X-chromosomes, one from father and one from mother, they seem to carry father’s legacy more than their male siblings.

Practically, legacy and races are carried on by both the sexes. A male and a female give birth to or adopt children, groom them up and those children represent whatever they learn from parents. That’s what legacy is. We are confusing legacy with birth, while it’s actually is karma. (Wow, I can use this word in English without an explanation!) While talking about race, we narrow ourselves into some surname or a community. Why not think about the human race as a whole?

I have been deviated from what I wanted to say. I was talking about Dashain and with it, ‘To eat or not to eat (meat) is the question.’ Bali (sacrifice) is defined by experts differently based on their preferences. Some say, “Sacrifice your animalistic characters.” And some, “Sacrifice your animals.” To me both seem right but I have to follow one. I follow the latter. I eat meat and I can not support the previous. I’m already a devil to them. But being a vegetarian (Is this a polite word? Somewhere I read, it is!) does not particularly mean one is an epitome of goodness. I can point out some people but don’t want to do it here. Find them out yourselves, will you?

I don’t think it would be right to say, “Don’t eat meat because it is bad.” If it were that bad, we would never be introduced to it in the first place. If you want to eat, eat it. If you don’t want, don’t. But don’t show hatred towards those who eat meat. With increasing droughts, desertification, and probable nuclear apocalypse, meat-eating people might find it easy to survive than the rest. Who knows if a lifetime vegetarian will have to eat meat in such a situation? (I remember watching a scene like this in some movie. I don’t remember the name though.) Because at times of wars and apocalypse, moral values don’t matter. Only thing that counts is survival.

I don’t want to debate though. I just want to say that Navaratri has come to an end. The debate thus ends until the next year.

And I want you to celebrate this wonderful day, which has already passed in some Asian countries, and is about to end in less than an hour in Nepal. It 10th of October. 10th day of the 10th month. Calendars tell me it’s World Mental Health Day. (I nearly wrote World Health Day. But Mental Health Day would also be on Health Day according to WHO’s definition.)

If you have been really confused reading this article, all I wanted to say is that I am totally confused over these days. Confused mind might not be a good health indicator but we live confused lives in this confused world. Why should I only feel guilty about it. Let’s share the guilt together. To sum up, I would like to end this article with a comment (I have not copied it except the first sentence- that was the easiest!) on Science Alert’s Facebook page:

Humans are strange. They create moral principles, discuss over what they should do to make their lives peaceful and religious. But they also create weapons for total destruction.