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The pilgrims gather;
A dusky, murmuring stream flowing
To this temple at Patan
With their awe, gifts and delight.
Demure maidens and bustling matrons
Gracefully head-balance
Copper pots containing
Flower petals, rice
And other offerings to pay homage
To promised wisdom and power.

Near the graven image
Looking to the four winds
From a platform
Surrounded by a reflecting pool,
Two guards protect the shrine.
Their raincoats absorb
The hot sunshine;
They glisten with sweat,
And other drops of moisture
Arching in profusion
As frisky youngsters splash
In the shallow depths.

Cchildren dive for coins
Tossed at the image by elders;
Their gratitude is accompanied
With a palm-pressing namaste
And fingers brushing
Thee right ear once.
The soaked buoyant boys
Break triumphantly
From the jade surface,
Holding their treasures aloft,
To be tucked inside their cheeks,
Like squirrels gathering nuts.

An old woman observes placidly
As a Brahmin sacramentalist
Carefully takes fourteen turns
Of the sacred thread around her wrist;
His hands glow with orange dye.
She joins in the finger ballet,
Separating countless folds
Of spotless white sash
At her tiny waist.
Her brown fingers
Free a small tin can purse
And shake out a white offering
Into the orange hand:
A portion of rice,
Which fails to cover
Her diminutive palm.

Thirsty younger women,
Heads scarfed, in bright skirts,
Pass around drinking water
And quaff it with gusto.
Their golden nose rings glow
And ponderous ear trinkets
Become clock pendulums
Flashing in the light.

A female troubador
Shyly presses a filmy
Dupatta to her lips
As she renders a mysterious song,
Encircled by an enchanted crowd.
Nearby, another smiling human ring
Presses around three singing drummers,
Praising one of the pantheon
With a staccato beat.

In the central temple
Broods the major player
With an imperious, four-fold stare.
At the base are strewn gifts
Of garlands, threads, fruits, and corncobs.
And over the Himalayas
Glares the blazing eye
The Hindus say this diety
Could bring crashing down
With the twitch of an eyebrow.