Namaste and welcome to this week’s Travel Photo of the Week as we travel to the sacred Kathmandu valley of Nepal. These spinning prayer wheels were photographed in the Buddhist Temple of Swayambhunath or as referred to by tongue-tied tourists, the monkey temple since it is inhabited by rambunctious rhesus macaque monkeys who call the temple home. The prayer wheels called Mani are spun to garner good karma and eliminate bad. Prayer wheels and have been around since at least 400 A.D. and are predominantly used by Tibetan Buddhist. The wheels are spun in a clockwise direction the same direction that the devout walk around a stupa or temple. The wheels are filled with tightly wound paper with as many mantras of om mani padme hum – printed on them as possible, as well as carved on the outside of the wheel in Sanskrit.
A mantra is the repetition of a word or sound that aids in meditation. Each time the wheel is spun the prayers are released and each mantra printed in and on the wheel counts, so the smaller the writing and the larger the wheel the more mantras are released. The literal translation of the mantra is roughly jewel in the lotus, but most Tibetan Buddhists assign a virtue to each syllable om- generosity, ma- ethics, ni- patience, pad- diligence, me- renunciation, and hum- wisdom. Together in chant it is the deep soothing sound of the temples.