Nearly 40 years after being stolen, Kathmandu reinstalled two Hindu deities with hundreds of years of history.
A century-old statue of two Hindu gods was reinstalled in a temple in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Nearly 40 years after it was stolen, it later appeared in the United States.
After months of investigations by activists and officials in Nepal and the United States, the Dallas Museum of Art and the FBI transported the stone statues of the gods Laxmi and Narayan back to Nepal in March.
It was taken from the temple in 1984, borrowed from a collector six years later, and exhibited at the Dallas Museum.
This work dates back to the 12th to 15th centuries and is one of the few cultural relics returned to Nepal from foreign museums and collectors this year.
On Saturday, a priest shouted and prayed, and the locals played traditional music as the statue was carried back to the pagoda-style temple on a sedan chair, which welcomed the work with marigold garlands.
It was put back on its original stone pedestal, and the replica that the locals had always admired was moved aside.
“We are very happy. Our three to four years have been fruitful and everyone is celebrating,” said Dilendra Raj Shrestha of the Nepal Heritage Restoration Movement.
“Deep cultural and spiritual significance”
He added that laser sensors and CCTV cameras have now been installed in the temple to protect the statue.
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry said: “We have seen the beginning of a trend of bringing back gods from the U.S., Europe and other countries that are now over.”
“I hope this is the first of many such celebrations.”
Nepal believes in religion, and its Hindu and Buddhist temples and heritage sites have always been an indispensable part of people’s daily lives.
Lamiyata Limbu of Al Jazeera reported at the ceremony held in Patan: “It may be a work of art for many people, but it has profound cultural and spiritual significance for generations of Nepalese.”
Many sites have lost centuries-old sculptures, paintings, decorative windows and even doors, which were often stolen after China opened to the outside world in the 1950s.
Many works were provided to the art market in the United States, Europe, and other places with the help of corrupt officials.
“I think this is a global change… Many countries require the return of their cultural relics. Nepal is legally in a good position because it has never been allowed to export,” Art Crime Professor Irene L. Thompson told AFP.
Thompson questioned the origin and history of the statue on Twitter, prompting an investigation of the sculpture.
Six items have been returned to Nepal this year, and the authorities are seeking more from France, the United States and the United Kingdom.