Charis Boke

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The aim of this paper is to further discussion on the changing landscape of Nepals socioeconomic world as seen through the lens of religious worship sites and practices. Anthropologists of religion in Nepal have a long history of exploring worship sites and practices, and the ways in which those sites and practices integrate, and integrate into, Nepali cultures and societies. As Nepal is increasingly connected to an economically, politically and socially globalizing world, a fresh review of worship sites and practices is in order—not only from a strictly ethnographic, documentary perspective, but from a perspective that considers how the rapid changes in the structure of Nepal's economic, political and social structures are affecting, and being affected by, religious realities. This paper will address two connected themes. The first looks at the economic relationships implicit in the interaction between worshiper and temple space, and questions how those economic (and thereby, social) relationships affect worship practice, attitudes and the spaces themselves. The second theme explores the different approaches to religious site organization and worship practice from urban areas (Kathmandu, Pokhara) through ex-urban areas (Pharping, Nagarkot, Sarangkot) to rural areas (Dolakha district, Mustang district, parts of Gorkha district). This exploration is done with an eye towards how socioeconomic factors, such as time spent engaging in primary economic activities (such as farming) and related observed cash flow, may affect the sites, practices, and local attitudes; so deeply that in some cases, religious practice looks and behaves more like 'work, and in some cases it looks and behaves more like 'leisure.' I don't intend, with this paper, to provide any hard and fast answers; I intend to start conversation about the economics of religion in the specific context of Nepali Hinduisms and Buddhisms, and to provide some thoughts on observations from my preliminary research.'