Conserving the Mandala: Community-based conservation of the living sacred heritage Through reconciling faith and conservation. Case study: Bauddhanath Monument Zone – Kathmandu, Nepal
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hroughout this research I have tried to emphasize on the spiritual and cultural meanings embedded in the heritage materiality to signify how the conservation rituals of Bauddhanath Stupa or any other Buddhist stupas are deeply mixed with ancient traditions and cultures. Reconciling faith and conservation is the main theme of this research since there are contrasting views between ritual conservation and international authorizing conservation approaches. I have questioned the possibilities of integrating these two contrasting approaches by deeply exploring the theories of both views. Bauddhanath Stupa’s authenticity is in danger of deterioration. Although the Monument itself might be in a good condition, the development and changes that is going on in its periphery is concerning. Almost all the buildings in the core zone of the Stupa have been reconstructed under weak supervisions on the implementation of the bylaws. On the other hand there are various local authorities and organizations which have certain amount of power and interest in conservation of the Bauddhanath Stupa. Various attempts have been made to unite these individuals under one unifying federation representing all the stakeholders but all of them have failed. Local heritage community obviously prioritizes local values, cultural sustainability and traditions over authorizing international principles which are mainly derived from modernism and western paradigm. Although I do not undermine the values of international doctrine, I believe there should be a mutual understanding, appreciation and cooperation between local and international views to be able to conduct best approaches to conservation in Bauddhanath Stupa. For this purpose the need for such a federation representing stakeholders of all three levels; local, national and international is significant. This federation would be able to evaluate to what extend they should use these approaches and they would be able to adapt the international doctrine into a local framework of values and traditions. This attempt would be possible by creating multi-sided dialogues between different stakeholders, understanding every objective, interest, values, choices, costs and benefits by raising awareness and involving communities in the decision making process of heritage management. By further research on heritage conservation and using experiences from advocates of successful heritage managements, the local heritage community would be able to develop a framework for their heritage based on context, their values and criteria.