What hides in the hills of Nepal! Natalia Bustamante

In my backpack in the first pocket there is a small zipper, inside of this smaller pocket of the smallest compartment of my backpack is a bead, with five sides. There are five sides to this bead, each representing a different Hindu God. This bead is sometimes tied with other beads, with a red string. These are prayer beads, there are priests, monks, gurus who carry these around while they pray. They protect and bless them with the power of many gods. Yesterday we were given a prayer bead by a Brahman Guru in the hills of the Nepal Valley of Dhulikhel. We trekked up the hill which had a really nice steep incline, after a steep part of the hill there was a school. I asked if students missed school often because of the incline of the hill and location of the school. The answer was a simple “no” children attend school Sunday through Friday and there is 100% attendance. We continued to climb and arrived at a temple for Shiva, outside of the temple was a large statue of Shiva laid inside of a cement pool which fills with rainwater collected in the hills and is used for wedding ceremonies. A newly married woman comes to this pool washes herself in it and by doing so her past sins are forgiving and she is re-birthed in that sense. The entrance to the temple is made of logs laid out across, we have to step over them but once we enter we are greeted with prayer flags, a statue to the monkey God, banners with Hindu gods, flowers and a field of a certain plant illegal in the US. Interesting stuff I tell you. We see the Guru, he is old, darkened by the sun, wears a symbolic red streak of paint on his forehead, he has a wrap on his head and his beard is in dreadlocks. He is as mystical and unbelievable as you can imagine, this man in particular has given up his whole life, family, possessions to dedicate his life to his profound beliefs in his Gods. I pick a flower and ask our tour guide if I can hand it to him. He takes the flower smiles and he reaches inside the flower and picks up a small bug from the inside and puts it down in the grass beside him. This Guru already knew there was a bug inside, what I had failed to see he could sense as I handed him the flower. He reached inside the flower and grabbed the bug within seconds. I stood there mystified. We leave and we are handed each a prayer bead. Later that night when we are having dinner,we are told by Geeta that this is a blessing and a big deal. I thought to myself, Auntie Geeta we already know.

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