Kushinigar is a pilgrimage site because this is where Buddha took his last breath.
Our first day in Kushinigar was amazing. It began with a parade. Granted it was a parade of Buddhists, but the town is only a few blocks long with just one street so the whole town participated in its own way.
The first four hours of the program was various government officials expounding upon something. I have no idea, I do not speak Hindi. Some of them were Hindus and that seems awkward to me, but this is still a country that feels that 15 political speeches before an event are something everyone is excited to do, and then they pose for those kinds of photos with everyone smiling and pretending they are so very thrilled to pose for the photo. I wonder if they get this from the British or if it is part of a young country.
The afternoon was spent listening to chanting from each of the countries. There is such a huge difference between the countries, some are very hard to listen to. The “moderator” wanted to make sure each country got a chance, so instead of waiting for the usual end where the monks say Sadu Sadu Sadu, he just pulled the plug on their microphone. It was always so funny to watch the monks all look at each other like “what happened”.
Sadu is said three times at the end of many things in Buddhism. It is really a way of saying “nicely done” and the audience says it at the same time as the monks. You can sort of equate it to Amen in the Christian religions.
We have two Laotians with us. They were the only two, and it was nice for them to finally be acknowledged as Laotian, they have been grouped with the Thais the entire time. What was so very sweet to me was to watch two of the stronger Thai chanters join the Laotians so their voices were stronger. They all really do support each other.
After the chanting was over the monks did a candlelight ceremony circumambulating the stupa and placing a cloth over the Buddha.
This Buddha was donated to the location in the 400s, and it amazes me that it still exists, that tomb raiders didn’t steal it or that the Muslim’s didn’t destroy it, possibly simply because this is such a remote location.
Everyday pilgrims come and lay coverings over the Buddha. I had the opportunity to watch just one shift, of what I think was at least three, where the monks remove the cloths and get back down to the gold sheet.
I was utterly amazed at how many were taken off, I have asked what happens to them, and most everyone figured the cloth was donated, but for what or to whom none of us really know.
This was a very visual day so I will leave you with photos to help you see what I saw.
Some of the sights along the parade route. As I said the whole town participated just be being there.