Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dilapidated Stores, Mill Street, Jackson, Mississippi

North Mill Street runs parallel to the Canadian Pacific (and Kansas City Southern?) railroad line in Jackson. The name "Mill" indicates its former industrial origins. Today, Mill Street north of the recently-renovated Union Station is a mess, with abandoned lots, crumbling houses, and concrete slabs. This part of Jackson is imploding.
This is a garage at 214 Mill Street. The crumbling doors made it look abandoned. But inside, there were semi-recent cars. So possibly it is a going concern, but it is hard to tell.
This is a store that formerly occupied the corner of Mill and West Monument Streets. It has been razed. I wrote about it in a 2013 article.

This is an old-fashioned local corner store at 758 Mill, at the corner at West Cohea Street. It is deserted, and the roof is beginning to collapse into the upper floor. I did not want to venture inside. Stores like this once served the local residents, who did not have automobiles or the ability to reach a supermarket.
The cottage at 744 has a cheerful garden. I took this from the rickety steps leading up to the 2nd flood of the corner store. Some people below waved and said hi.
Across the street at 903 was a car shop. The tracks are behind. The Amtrak comes along this line en route to Union Station.
This is a shop at 906, across West Cohea from the abandoned 2-storey store. There is still a need for a local store to serve the residents. I have more photographs from this area, but they are on film and must be scanned. Someday when I have time....

2015 photographs taken with a FujiFilm X-E1 digital camera.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pashupatinath: Holy Nepal Hindi Site in Danger

We often think of Nepal as a profoundly Buddhist country, but the largest number of Nepalis (up to 83 percent according to the 2011 census as reported in Wikipedia) are Hindus. The most holy Hindu site in the Kathmandu valley is the Temple of Pashupatinath, located along the banks of the Bagmati River. The Pashupatinath Temple (Nepali: पशुपतिनाथ मन्दिर) is one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. According to Wikipedia, the area of Pashupatinath covers 264 hectres (652 acres), within which are 518 temples and monuments.
The Bagmati River (in Nepali: बागमती नदी) flows through the Kathmandu valley, separating the Kathmandu from Lalitpur regions. Both Hindus and Buddhists consider it a profoundly holy river. It eventually joins the equally-holy Ganges River. Unfortunately, the Bagmati is badly polluted from raw sewage and industrial waste that pours into it.

As a first-time visitor, it is hard to get a sense of the scale of the temple complex. It seems to extend indefinitely over a jumble of buildings, terraces, alleys, and walls.
The Bagmati is sacred to Hindus because the dead are cremated on the banks of the river. From Wikipedia: "According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati River before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take a bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River purifies the people spiritually."

But in the aftermath of the April 25, 2015 earthquake, thousands of families brought their dead here for traditional cleansing and cremation. But a cremation requires 300-500kg of wood and has led to massive deforestation in the Katmandu area as well as air pollution. A 2009 BBC article described the installation of an electric furnace, but I do not know if was ever put into operation.
Before and during a cremation, family members gather along the river with food offerings. Rice is put in boats made of woven leaves and floated down the river.
These bright powders are used in the ceremonies, but I am not sure exactly how.
Monkeys wander around the grounds. I suppose they are skilled at stealing food scraps.
Vendors sell garlands of flowers, coconuts, and other supplies.
The architecture at Pashupatinath has evolved and been rebuilt over 400 years. According to Wikipedia, the original 5th century temple was largely destroyed by Islamic invaders in the 14th century. The subsequent temple was consumed by termites and then rebuilt by King Bhupatindra Malla ain the 17th century.
The stonework and carving is intricate, and some of it reminds me of carving in Ankor (Cambodia).

Pashupatinath survived the 2015 earthquake largely intact, but has been witness to immense sorrow among the grieving families who brought their dead her to this sacred site.

Photographs taken with an Olympus E330 digital camera.