MOST VISITORS to Kathmandu valley are immediately impressed by the immense proliferation of physical manifestations of the sacred or divine. As well as the countless temples and shrines dedicated to almost every known deity of both the Hindu and Buddhist pantheons, not to mention numerous others of purely local significance, there is an almost infinite number of sacred places and objects scattered throughout the valley: some man-made structures, such as caityas, stupas, lingas, wells, statues and cremation grounds, others natural features, such as trees, stones, caves, rivers or hill-tops. Religion is, as it were, visibly made manifest wherever one turns. But what is perhaps even more striking is that this proliferation of sacra is matched by an equally visible emphasis on highly-organized human physical activity as the primary mode of religious worship. To an exceptional degree the Newars spend a great deal of their time, energy and resources making offerings at temples and shrines, performing sacrifices and other elaborate rituals, attending numerous and popular festivals and fairs, and participating in processions and pilgrimages. These two features of Newar religion, that is to say the objectification of the divine and the proliferation of rituals of the physically active or 'doing' kind, are but two sides of the same coin. Because the divine is scattered around the landscape in a great variety of physical forms, so too is there a corresponding development of ritual procedures designed to bring worshipper and deity into productive contact.
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