Art by Alexander Vasiljev, Copyright © 2017


Monday, September 22, 2014


I have just returned from a 10 day photography trip to Nepal. Having absorbed "terabytes" of information and visual stimulation, my sensory system is overloaded and it will take me some time to digest all I have seen, heard, smelled, tasted and felt. It wasn't however, my first time visiting Nepal, and yet it was full of rich experiences, as always. 

In this brief report, I would like to share some of my observations about fish and especially goldfish symbolism in Nepalese culture. Being predominantly Hindu and Buddhist, Nepal's religious and spiritual fabric is ancient and rich, interwoven with many legends, myths and symbols. One of the symbols, equally important for both Hindus and Buddhists is the carp or goldfish. Being one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, fish carry a special significance. Originally, two goldfish represented the two sacred Indian rivers - Ganges and Yamuna and symbolized good fortune. For the Buddhists, goldfish are seen as a representation of being fearlessly suspended in 
Samsãra, the repeating cycle of birth, life and death followed by reincarnation. Buddhists believe that a living being who practices Dharma need not fear drowning or suffering in the ocean of Samsãra and can freely migrate at their rebirth, from place to place and from teaching to teaching, like fish freely swim through the water. Because of their complete freedom of movement, carp is also a symbol of happiness and represents fertility and abundance. Here are a few photographs I took throughout Buddhists Temples in Kathmandu depicting goldfish and various fish design. 

Two goldfish painted on the gates to Shechen Buddhist Monastery

Two goldfish on the metal gate to Shechen Buddhist Monastery

Fish scale design on the window of a Buddhust Temple, 

Carp fish locks 

Through my travel, I did stumble upon an aquarium store, while walking between Pashupatinath and Boudhanath sites. A store the size of a small room with several fish tanks was selling few tropical fish varieties and black baby common goldfish in this Kathmandu neighborhood. 

Speaking of my own fish, I left my ranchu for 12 days practically on their own, with the exception of my partner adding fresh water once due to evaporation and cleaning the intake pump's filter a few times. Before I left, I did a 100% water change, cleaned the filter and filled the automatic feeder with pellets. The feeder was set to dispense three small meals a day. In addition, my ranchu had "all you can eat" green wall algae. Upon my return, I checked the water parameters and was pleased to find zero ammonia and nitrites. The pH value was as I left it at 8.3. With no delay I performed a 100% water change, long awaited by the ranchu. 
I watched them being stimulated by the fresh water, swimming actively and effortlessly, making me think of Buddhist symbolism and the flow of life.

If anyone reading this is interested in visiting Nepal with me, I will be leading two tours next year. For more information please visit my travel website  >>  NATURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS.