Week 3 of our program has been very busy and full of transition. The students are now settled in with their urban homestay families in Patan, with whom they will stay for the next 5 week, and we have begun a daily routine of classes at our program house located in the heart of old Patan, a city over 2300 years old, which boasts the oldest continuously practiced Buddhist culture in the world.
Before arriving in Patan, we engaged in some physical and spiritual nature conservation activities. We planted some ceremonial fruit trees at Hasera Permaculture Farm before departing. Our students and instructors then joined with local environmental activists from Banepa, Kavre District, to plant trees at a pilgrim’s rest area (Dharamsala) below the Dhaneshwor Temple there.
Our hands-on regenerative agroforestry activities complement our study of adaptation to and mitigation of the Climate Crisis in the Himalayas.
We also made a 3 day visit to the pilgrimage town of Pharping and the farms in Lamagaon, located in the hills above Pharping, Dakshinkali. Lama Karma Dawa-la joined us to offer a Naga puja on the auspicious Naga Day, for the purpose of pacifying any negative influences caused by humanity’s destruction and pollution of the natural world, especially forests, wetlands, springs, and bodies of water. We have been learning about the pervasive beliefs in Naga spirits, serpentine lords of the underworld who protect and control the water cycle, and are considered the truly original inhabitants of the Kathmandu, which was once a vast lake.
Photos: our teacher Anil Chitragar talking in front of the 2300 year old Ashokan Stupa in Pimbahal Patan; the famed Nag Bahal (temple courtyard) in Patan where people pray to Nagas to avert rain from disrupting important events; tree planting at the Dhaneshwor Dharamsala above Banepa Kavre; raspberry planting at Hasera Farm with our teacher Govinda Sharma; the sacred landscape of Pharping; and Lama Karma Dawa making ritual offerings to local Naga spirits to foster harmony between the human and non-human communities with the natural environment.