I’d had that moment of panic the previous night, just a crisis of “Oh no! What have I done?” and a few tears. A ball of nervous energy and self doubt.

All doubt was put to bed as I skipped off to the Boudha Stupa beside our base in Mahankal. It’s the largest stupa, or temple, in Nepal. The holiest outside of Tibet. This is the sunniest, calmest, most beautifully ornate temple that I have ever seen. The central stupa, in all its glory, is within an enclosed ring of markets and smaller temples, under the watchful eyes of Buddha. This is a sacred place and you can feel it. No street dogs aggressively barking here, even they are blissed out, lying peacefully in the sun.

Apart from grabbing my senses, what captures me is the tradition of the worship and gestures.  The slow, methodical rhythm. Buddhist monks in orange robes, tourists, locals, children and even tiny, stooped old Nepali women making their way around the stupa; walking clockwise to represent the wheel of life, spinning the prayer wheels, cleansing in white incense, ringing the bells, bowing, chanting om.  The petals left for the statues, the water bowl offerings, the dyes. Trays of ceramic candles, representing thousands of blessing and good wishes, their flames flickering in the darkness. Mesmerising.  The consideration shown is touching, humbling, beautiful.

One temple, every square inch, was painted with such detail and care. Energy thrumming, radiating calm, respect, positivity and stillness. I choked back tears and my chest caught as I stood in that cool, silent temple and reflected. In comparison, the level of turbulence that has been in my life this past year is evident; I have had little peace of mind. The stupa shows me with great clarity that this was a good choice for me, that I am on the right path. I am grateful for that.

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Prayer Flags
Candle wishes
Lunar Eclipse lights
Water offerings
Prayer wheels
Prayer and reflection
Local children “Chocolate?”