I was alerted by a Nepali blog to go watch Manakamana. As a Nepali, as Eastern peoples as a whole, we've sub-consciously been trained for occasional cinematic, literary or verbal critics and analysis of various segments of our culture which has trained a part of our brain to just accept these 'mystical' misinterpretations of fundamental aspect of our lives. Hence with that same mind-state I went to the theater with another one of my Nepali friend. At first, I had an idea that they would show the drama in the temple, the sacrifice of animals, the deluded people and all of that which would help further in securing science and progression as a strictly Western heritage by showing the contrast. But I was wrong.
This is a very fair and a nonchalant depiction of a group of pilgrims traveling to the top of a hill which houses a temple we revere as 'Manakamana'. In that, 'Mana' meaning heart and 'Kamana' meaning yearnings, as is believed in Hindu religion, we go there to pray or wish for something by traveling to the top of the mountain and letting the Goddess know. This was previously hard and often took 3 days walk but is now done through a cable car as if one were going to Aspen to ski. So the whole film is just the shot of the travelers inside those cable cars and little bits they spill about their lives. To Orientalists who must be hunting for that deeply Eastern mystic and spiritual getaway through epic visuals and hyperbolic language, it is a disappointment. But even to me as a Nepali who was looking for all the things that a Westerner could get wrong in the depiction of something so complex an idea, I was disappointed. My expectations of misinterpretations were disappointed. I was not contented either. I mean, we were two Nepalese people sitting in midst of this independent-film-watching American crowd and I didn't know what about us in that simple travel to the top of a temple became so mystical that it necessitated a film! I felt that this was something that could be archived as a stock footage of 'The Arrival of Cable Car' in the Library of Congress in Nepal if we had one. But other than that, I only enjoyed watching my people in the rawness that they appeared in. For others, I simply do not know what this depicts.
A documentary about a group of pilgrims who travel to Nepal to worship at the legendary Manakamana temple.
October 08, 2022 at 08:29 PM
1 hr 58 min