Christmas in Nepal / ネパールで迎えたクリスマス


-From Michael

Spending the Holiday season at a foreign country can always be a unique experience. Three years ago on my first ICEP trip I had the unforgettable experience of celebrating Christmas with Christian refugees in Myitkyina, Myanmar and this Christmas in Nepal was equally special.

Late on Christmas Eve we arrived in Lumbini – the birthplace of the Buddha. It is believed that Gautama Buddha’s mother, princess Mayadevi, traveled from her palace to her father’s kingdom but unexpectedly stopped in the garden at Lumbini where she gave birth to her son. Since being rediscovered in 1896, the sacred garden has been a site of pilgrimage for thousands of Buddhist believers from all over the world.

We started the day however playing at a Christian boarding school. It was both surprising and encouraging to find a Christian community so close to one of the holiest sites for Buddhists. We joined the Christmas celebrations by playing selections from our regular program as well as several Christmas carols. Even though most of them didn’t know the words for the carols, they were still familiar with the tunes and were very appreciative of our performance.

From there we set towards the holy sites in Lumbini. I was surprised by the relative modesty and lack of extravagance displayed throughout the complex. Mere photos can hardly do justice to this place. The most striking thing was seeing hundreds of Buddhist monks from various countries wearing different shades of red, orange, and yellow. Entire families of pilgrims put on colorful traditional attires which showed just how many different cultures can be brought together through a single shared belief. The main boulevard of the complex is surrounded by monasteries built by different countries to provide rest for their pilgrims. Each monastery was built in its country’s unique architectural style and only added to the feeling of universal solidarity.

We gave a short performance at the main plaza in front of a statue of the baby Buddha. Monks and pilgrims gathered around us as we played music by Mozart, Dvorak, and Tchaikovsky for possibly the first time in Lumbini. We were approached by many who wanted to take photos with us and thank us for “showing great love to Nepal and the Nepali people.” It was certainly a meaningful experience to celebrate the birth of Christ in the place where many celebrate the birth of Buddha, and to show once again that music has the unique power to bring together people from different places, cultures, and religions.









-From Benedict

My first Christmas holidays away from home. Which is quite an abstract thought, because nothing could be more far away than a dressed up tree by the fireside, and thick pullovers on a cold winter’s day. Nevertheless our quartet performed Christmas carols today at a Christian boarding school in Lumbini, birthplace of the buddha, in t-shirts and bright sunlight.

Speaking about the quartet – they are all such excellent musicians, I never get tired of hearing (and filming) them play the same music over and over again. Do our audiences here even appreciate, since it is mostly their first contact with western classical music? Maybe it just doesn’t matter. It is kind of a relief not to overhear the typical concert-break talk about interpretation and idolization. But then again, of course it does matter! We are constantly meeting people who, in their generosity as hosts, offer us the best they have – and so should we.


カルテットは、皆とても素晴らしい演奏家で、彼らが演奏するのを何度も聴いたり(撮影したり)していますが、飽きることなど一度としてありません。聴衆はもちろん楽しんで鑑賞しています。それは西洋のクラシック音楽に触れるのがほぼ初めてだったからしょうか? そうではないかもしれません。クラシック・コンサートの休憩時間によく耳にする曲や演奏の解釈や賞賛の声は当然ながら聞こえませんが、地元の人々はホストとして寛大に、彼らが持っている最高のものを私たちに差し出してくれています。そして私たちもそれに応えるべくベストを尽くさねばならないのです。



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