Security ramped up for Maha Shivratri at Pashupati



Security ramped up for Maha Shivratri at Pashupati Kathmandu: Thousands of devotees, including Indians, are expected to worship here at Nepal's world famous Pashupatinath temple on Maha Shivratri as authorities stepped up security around the most sacred Lord Shiva temple.

Some 6 lakh to 7 lakh visitors, including 2.5 lakh from India, are expected to gather here on Monday during the festival, said Sushil Nahata, chief of the Pashupati Area Development Trust PADT that manages the temple.

He said free accommodation, food and drinking water are being arranged for thousands of devotees who arrive from different parts of the country as well as India.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river, the 5th century shrine is regarded as the most sacred temple of Lord Shiva (Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal. The temple is also listed in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.

Special devotional songs and dances and religious discourses form part of the celebration during the Maha Shivratri.

Some 4,000 security personnel and 6,000 volunteers are being mobilized for security and convenience of the devotees.

Altogether, 2,500 Sadhus (saints) and 300 Naga Babas are expected to arrive from India to worship at the most famous temple of Lord Pashupati on the occasion.

Some 300 to 400 buses full of devotees have already arrived to worship at the Hindu shrine.

Authorities here said that though there will be a long queue for the devotees, but special arrangements have been made for those seeking an early worship.

Those wishing to avoid the long queue can purchase NRs 1,000 ticket and bypass the queue to reach the main temple complex.

In 2008, the tempel had been the centre of a row when the Prachanda-led Maoist coalition government sacked the chief priest and other Brahmins from South India, and appointed Nepalese priests to replace them.

It had triggered widespread protests across Nepal and in India as it was a break with centuries-old tradition where Brahmins from South India have led the worship at one of the holiest Hindu shrine.

Later, Nepal's Supreme Court had stayed the government regulation aimed at ending the 300-year old monopoly of Indian priests at the famed Pashupatinath.

PTI