Nepal’s Kumari (living goddess) Samita Bajracharya, aged 10, sits on her traditional religious chair while waiting for devotees at the Buddhist monastery Ratnakar Bihar in Lalitpur, Nepal, on August 3, 2012, before the beginning of a procession held as part of the Gai Jatra (cow festival) which is dedicated to family members who have passed away recently.
The Kumari is often confined to her home, but there are some days when she is allowed to appear in front of the public. Yet she has to be carried from her from home to the events, never allowing her feet to touch the ground as this is considered unlucky. Devotees take her blessing by offering flowers, money and touching her feet. Everyone from businessmen starting new ventures, students preparing for a big exam, to people just hoping to find strength and improve ailing health visit the Kumari at Kumari Ghar for blessings.
The stunning Phuktal monastery is built into a huge cave and spills out onto an almost perpendicular cliff face; when approaching (on foot,no road) one turns round a bend in the valley and are presented with this incredible sight.
Monks gather to pray at the Labrang monastery prior Tibetan New Year in Xiahe county, Gansu Province, on February 21, 2012. Tibetans in northwest China marked a tense traditional new year on Wednesday with prayer, the sounding of gongs and subdued defiance in the wake of a string of self-immolations and protests against Chinese control. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
3000 meters high up in the Himalayan Mountains sits the Tigers Nest Monastery (or Taktsang Palphug). Located near the city of Paro in the Kingdom of Bhutan, I hiked up into the mountains to find this sacred Buddhist temple complex perched on the edge of a cliff. It was originally built in 1692.
When the Capuchin monastery in Palermo, Italy, outgrew its original cemetery in the 16th century, monks excavated the catacomb below it and began a bizarre tradition that lasted until the 19th century.
The Capuchin monks mummified the bodies of the dead, dressed them up in everyday clothing and then put them on display on the monastery walls. Apparently, it was quite a status symbol to be entombed in the Capuchin monastery – prominent citizens of the town would ask to be preserved in certain clothing or even have the clothes changed on a regular basis according to contemporary fashion!
When the last body was interred in the late 1800s, there were 8,000 mummies on the walls of the Capuchin monastery and in the catacombs.