Discovering the Soul of South-East Asia
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The fourth episode of the Mekong Alive series focuses on the omnipresence of spirituality in the Greater Mekong. As with the Ganges in India, in the perception of the inhabitants of this region, the Mekong is of divine essence. The river, with each drop it carries to the valleys, it takes a little of the divinity of the sacred mountains where it takes its source.
The values of prosperity, as they are enhanced by the Western World, are in complete opposition with the values of renouncement of material wealth commended by Buddhist philosophy. As a matter of fact, over 90 % of the population of the Greater Mekong is Buddhist. The region is full of temples and pagodas because the spirits, the gods and the demons too are part of everyday life. They are the heroes of all festive events. It is more especially the dragon, as the symbol of superhuman forces, of spirituality and supreme power that still lives in the heart of the festive traditions of this part of the world. If dragon-races and water feasts are the highlights of the spiritual year, Mekong people never forget to decorate their houses, their temples and their pagodas with dragons: they become real masterpieces of sacred architecture. In particular, most of the impressive temples are an exceptional homage to the divines forces worshipped in this part of the world, and the dragon is their symbol.