Puja for Death of Relative in Akaha, Nepal

One year after the death of a loved one in Nepal, a puja is held to honor the deceased. Family and friends gather early in the morning and share a meal, after which men join the priests in chanting prayers from ancient scrolls. Throughout the day, food, holy leaves, flowers and other gifts are offered to the gods. During the preceding year the family has prepared palm trays that contain at least 100,000 cotton wicks; these are set aflame and carried around the stage. The smoke from the burning wicks ascends to the heavens, releasing the spirit of the loved one, who has been trapped in the earthbound plane for the prior 12 months. After a ritual blessing over a holy cow, the gathering erupts into revelry and song and dance continue throughout the night until the break of dawn. During the night, Hindu gods inhabit the bodies of four of the male attendees, which is seen as a very auspicious sign for the soul of the departed. Unlike funerals in the Western world, a puja to celebrate the death of a loved one in Nepal is a joyous occasion. To read more about my round-the-world travels, visit my blog, https://holeinthedonut.com