The monsoon has arrived, and the fields have been planted. It is time for Kathmandu Valley Buddhists to observe
Gunla. The month-long festivities celebrate a "rains retreat" initiated twenty-five centuries ago by the Buddha: It is a time for prayer, fasting, meditation and religious music.
Worshippers climb past jungles, stone animals, great statues of the Buddha, and begging monkeys to Swayambhu's hilltop where daily prayers begin before dawn. Oil lamps, prayer flags, religious statues, and scroll paintings adorn the monasteries as temple bells chime and powerful scents fill the air. Important Buddhist statues
are on display at the monasteries, and the teachings of Lord Buddha are remembered as the
rains nurture the rice, Nepal's most important crop.
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