Photos and Text: Emma Mosemann

Located in Nepal is the world’s largest Stupa, Boudhanath. Stupa is the name for a Buddhist temple, particularly the dome shaped structures. As soon as you enter the city the crowds sweep you up, everyone walking towards the east, spinning the prayer wheels around the Stupa. You can see the Stupa’s painted eyes staring down from atop the white dome from miles away. Strings of prayer flags flutter all around in the wind adding to the colorful landscape of the city surrounding it. I’ve never been to the Stupa when there wasn’t people everywhere, tourists, Tibetan refugees, spiritual seekers, and monks from one of the 50 surrounding monasteries. Boys as young as five and six are sent to the monasteries to dedicate their lives learning to practice Buddhism and become monks. The Tibetan community is large and the majority of them are devout Buddhists. They carry prayer beads everywhere, rubbing the wood beads in prayer and wearing them on their children. Many practice a form of yoga on the sides of the Stupa, facing the temple they lay stretched out on a wooden board moving up and down in worship. Spiritual seekers come to study these practices to watch, learn, and try their own worship. When you walk through the streets the people that surround you are all seeking, seeking spiritual enlightenment, peace, a home, or even their next meal. There are many beggars pulling on your sleeves, sleeping in the alleys, or picking up trash to make a small amount of money. These people make their living mostly off of tourists or people giving in hopes of improving their karma. This temple, city, and the people living around it represent one of the oldest religions in the world. It is fascinating to watch the inner workings of a world so far separated from my own and see the effect Buddhism is having on the whole world.