Stolen Nepali statue returns to its temple after decades in US

Stolen Nepali statue returns to its temple after decades in US
A centuries-old sculpture of two Hindu gods has been re-installed at its temple in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, nearly 40 years after it was stolen and later emerged in the United States. The stone statue of the gods Laxmi and Narayan was repatriated to Nepal in March by the Dallas Museum of Art and the FBI after a months-long investigation by Nepali and American activists and officials.

It was taken from the temple in 1984 and appeared on display at the Dallas museum six years later, on loan from a collector. The work, dating back to between the 12th and 15th centuries, is one of a handful of cultural artefacts returned to Nepal from foreign museums and collectors this year.

A priest chanted prayers and locals played traditional music on Saturday as the statue was carried in a palanquin back to the pagoda-style temple, which was draped in marigold garlands to welcome the work. It was placed back on its original stone plinth, with a replica that locals had been worshipping instead moved to stand alongside.

“We are very happy. Our efforts of three to four years have been fruitful, everyone is celebrating,” said Dilendra Raj Shrestha of the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign.

Laser sensors and CCTV cameras have now been installed in the temple to protect the statue, he added.

“We are seeing the beginning of a trend, to bring back Nepal’s gods from the United States, from Europe, from other countries where they have now ended up,” said the US ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry.

“I hope this is the first of many such celebrations.”
Nepal is deeply religious and its Hindu and Buddhist temples, as well as heritage sites, have remained an integral part of people’s everyday lives. Read More...

James Koroma