MIDWAY : Faith vs filth

Some days ago, I happened to walk along a corridor-like street in the capital, filled with all kinds of garbage — rotten fruits and vegetables, plastic and paper, a dead dog, food

remains, etc. To top it all, the stench was piquant enough to pierce through every fold of your handkerchief, even if you pressed it up to the point of smashing your nose or stifling yourself to instant death.

Some days later, the rundown street had taken on a pleasantly new avatar — it was immaculately well-swept, squeaky clean and exuded a pleasant aroma of incense and fresh flowers. And for once, it was not the holy cows that had alleviated the Metropolitan authorities’ unholy burden by feeding on the prairies of garbage. And who had achieved this unachievable feat? Gods, of course!

After all, at least in man’s imagination, they are cracked up to bring about miracles. And vis-à-vis this particularly grungy street, they had kept their words faithfully. They had performed miracles.

All the same, Gods alone would not have been able to do anything had the most intelligent creature not taken the sacred initiative. Well, the latter unearthed the former garbed in various forms of stones, washed them with cow-milk, smeared them in thick vermilion, garlanded them and finally erected them in the now cleaned-up dumping site.

The blunt graffiti ‘only the son of the bitch throws garbage or urinates here’ was piously replaced by ‘don’t pollute your karma by throwing garbage in this holy site’. Well, it was a

case of faith gracefully wining over filth.

Sacred sites are ubiquitous in Kathmandu — some say there are more then 4000! However, certain sites seem to be less sacred than others.

The other day, I was climbing up the steps towards Guheshwori, and I hear a thud coupled with an aye! — a pilgrim had slipped not on the mud or on a banana peel but on human excrement.

Anyway, turning dumping sites into holy sites is a far more agreeable experience than the other way round: it’s like killing two birds with one stone — we will have more Gods and Goddesses to pour out our grievances and filth-free environs to assuage our lungs. Thank God. It’s fabulous.