The Sacred Mountains of Nepal
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Holy Mountains of Nepal – Die heiligen Berge Nepals – Les Montagnes sacrées du Népal
By Damien François
Vajra Books, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2014
It can be assumed that the native population – be it in Asia or in North America – consider mountain trekking tourism sacrilege. For the many mountaineers that come to Nepal, however, the Himalayan mountain peaks merely represent a sporting challenge which is in stark contrast to the religious and spiritual beliefs of the native people.
But what does it mean if native people accompany tourists-mountaineers on their ascent, just to earn money? How can these opposing world views be accommodated? As RWTH alumni Dr. Damien François, a writer and cultural anthropologist, put it, to answer these questions “you’d have to start with Adam and Eve.” His book “Die heiligen Berge von Nepal“ (The Holy Mountains of Nepal“) is the first publication on the Himalaya mountains that has a focus on their spiritual aspects.
In his lecture, Damien François addressed the clichés about this mountainous region, the indigenous folk, and Tibetan Buddhism. Aside from his passion for trekking and mountain climbing, he shared the spiritual aspects of these mountains, the mystical experiences, and the people's respect for this grandiose nature.
When the lecture was planned, nobody could foresee the dramatic events around Nepal in the spring: at the time of the earthquakes, Damien François was at Mt. Everest in order to climb the planet’s highest mountain. After the first earthquake on April 25, however, all expeditions were cancelled; gladly, François was unharmed. The proceeds from the book go to François’s Nepalese friends, so as to support them in these difficult times.