One of the most important influences on Nepalese Buddhism is the presence of Hinduism, which has coexisted with Buddhism in Nepal for centuries. This has led to the development of a syncretic form of Buddhism that incorporates many elements of Hinduism, such as the worship of gods and goddesses and the use of mantras and rituals.
Nepalese Buddhism is also heavily influenced by the Tibetan form of Buddhism, known as Vajrayana Buddhism. This is due to the close cultural and historical ties between Nepal and Tibet, as well as the large number of Tibetan refugees who have settled in Nepal in recent decades. Visitors to Nepal can see many Tibetan-style monasteries and temples, as well as the presence of tantric practices such as the use of mandalas and the worship of tantric deities.
One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Nepalese Buddhists is Lumbini, which is believed to be the birthplace of the Buddha. The sacred temples and monasteries that have been built in and around the birthplace, including the Mayadevi Temple, which marks the spot where the Buddha was born, make Lumbini a must-see destination for those interested in Nepalese Buddhism.
Another important pilgrimage site is Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal. Visitors can witness the daily rituals and prayers conducted by the resident monks, and explore the many temples and shrines that are found within the complex.
Nepalese Buddhism is also known for its rich tradition of festivals and ceremonies, many of which are steeped in Buddhist culture and history. Some of the most important festivals include the Saga Dawa, which commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing away, and the Lhosar, which is celebrated by the Tibetan community and marks the start of the Tibetan New Year.
In summary, Nepalese Buddhism is a unique blend of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, influenced by the coexistence of Hinduism and the presence of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s a rich and diverse tradition that reflects the cultural and historical influences of Nepal, visitors to Nepal can experience this unique blend through visiting pilgrimage sites, monasteries, and participating in festivals and ceremonies.