In June of 2011 students from the Catholic University of America constructed the Magar Memorial to the Ancestors in Bhedetar, Nepal. They were led by the architect and professor Travis Price and the director of the Spirit of Place Institute, Kathleen lane. Over the past 18 years spirit of place has allowed students the chance to research, design and construct a project in a remote landscape. The Memorial to the Magar Ancestors is inspired by the shamanic rituals, culture, and burial practices of the Magar people. These animistic origins are blended with sacred traditions of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The Memorial is located on the highest hilltop of Thumki village amid the burial grounds of hundreds of village ancestors. In traditional funeral ceremonies, mourners carry stones in a procession to the top of the hill. As one approaches the Memorial, an opening in the 7 foot monumental stone walls beckon, and one can enter, and circumambulate around the path as at a stupa. Views open along the linear axes of the path to the surrounding mountains, and back to the village, and to the plains below, as well as inward toward the sacred center of the Memorial. The central place of the Memorial can be glimpsed, or entered through the narrow slits between walls to step carefully onto the sharp standing stones swirling in a classical Hindu swastika pattern as the 'sea of souls' around a metaphoric inverted tomb; a 3 foot by 6 foot void, encased with a laminated plane of glass permitting a view into the ground, but reflecting the clouds above, and prompting the viewer to simultaneously reflect upon the oneness of earth and sky.
Student Team: Andrew Baldwin, Miguel Castro, Liz Marie Fibleuil, Suzanne Humphries, Carrie Kramer, Ashley Marshall, Kristen McKenzie, Chloe Rice, Abigail Rolando, Arvi Sardadi, Allie Steimel, Kevin Thomson, Lauren Warner, Evan Wivell