Thursday Oct. 25 – Day 5 – The temples of Luang Prabang – We went to many temples while we were here and saw the beautiful architecture. The eves soar up to the sky with a protective snake or “Naga” running along the ridge line. The Cobra is used a great deal in Buddhist symbolism. There is the five headed Cobra that runs down the bannisters of most stairways at the temple sites also.
The temples are full of carved Buddhas in different shapes, sizes, materials and poses. Many of them are covered in gold leaf and the older ones that have lost their gold are often seen with small pieces applied to them as they are slowly recovered in gold. The poses mean different things. The hand touching earth represents one thing while two raised hands in front of the chest represents something else. A buddha with his hands at his side represents the wish for rain.
This is a very interesting topic and you could spend a lot of time studying these different hand gestures. I am intrigued by them.
In the evening the monks placed paper “pyramids” on the ground in long lines and patterns with lit candles inside. It was a big event and many people came to the temples to see the designs and to help. There was also music and fireworks. Many families were there to enjoy the night.
There are many “stupas” around the temple grounds. They are small conical tombs with monks and rich families ashes entombed inside their own stupa. Many of them have photos of the dear departed attached to them and as each person in the family dies, their ashes are added.
Only the very wealthy and generous have their stupas on the temple grounds of course. That’s only fair I suppose. If you help a great deal to keep these temples repaired and preserved then it’s only right that you should be remembered.
There are many beautiful temples near you, wherever you may live. They are worth a visit and support. They are often sites of Bonsai plant shows as well.