Aerial view of Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal
© Maksim Semin/Shutterstoc
Harvest season begins
Today we're in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the Boudhanath stupa stands out against the skyline. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the stupa is on the ancient trade route from Tibet—traders have rested and offered prayers here for centuries. Like all stupas, Boudhanath is a mound-like structure containing relics. It was first built sometime after the 600s, when Buddhism was first spreading through Tibet and Nepal. It's long been a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists, and is said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha, one of the 29 named ancient Buddhas.
Today, many locals in Kathmandu and across Nepal are celebrating Maghe Sankranti, the harvest festival that marks the beginning of the month of Magh and the start of warmer weather. It's similar to the winter solstice celebrated by other cultures. Typically, people observe the holiday at home with their families. But this holiday is also when many Hindus worship the sun god by taking ritual baths in nearby rivers and eating special festive foods like yams and sweet dough balls called 'laddus.'