Home Institution

Brandeis University

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Nepal: Culture and Development


Halesi is a small, but growing village located in the Khotang District of Eastern Nepal. In many ways it is rather normal. As is typical in this area of Nepal, its inhabitants are mainly Rai Hindus, although there is a substantial community of other Hindu castes as well. Less typically, there is a small, but very important Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Halesi. The reason for this monastery is even less typical still. In the rocky terrain around Halesi there are many caves. But in the central rocky, tree covered hillock of Halesi bazaar there is one cave of particular importance. By Hindus it is called Halesi. It gave the village its name. By Tibetan Buddhists it is called Maratika. This cave, which is a naturally formed cavity in every sense of the word, is thick with spiritual significance. It is uniquely important religious site for both Hindus and Buddhists though, as yet, the events that transpired here are not well known. But these events, as well as its very naturalness, make Halesi one of the most important spiritual sites for these two religions and perhaps the world. It is a great treasure in the hands of a little village.

The purpose of this study is to illuminate what ways the presence of such a significant temple has and will continue to affect the lives of the people in Halesi. It begins with the necessary historical and temple information to provide a basis for understanding and then goes on to look at more recent phenomenon and the dialogue in Halesi, a multifaceted exchange of belief and desires. One man, who recognizes the inextricable connection between Halesi’s fate and the very presence of the temple, jokingly referred to this relationship as the blessing of Shiva. I would add that not everything that has happened in Halesi has been easy for its people. At certain times, the presence of the temple may have seemed like more of a curse than a blessing. This paper is an attempt to look at the way that religious and practical realms interact in the little known story of one very important place.


History of Religions of Eastern Origins | Regional Sociology

Article Location