In 2008 Nepal became a republic. It is still struggling to reconcile the old urban elite and the disaffected rural poor. But the demise of the world’s last ruling Hindu monarchy—headed by a king seen as the reincarnation of a deity—has not disturbed Hinduism’s deep roots in Nepal. Nor has it led to a shortage of those seeking the path to enlightenment by way of jolly austerity. ~ SIMON LONG
The snake-staff is a symbol of authority—hardly needed, given its holder’s air of regal self-possession.