Pashupatinath saw largest crowd at Shivaratri festival

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar calling on Nepal's President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav at the latter's office in Kathmandu on Feb 26. (Photo: Rajendra Chitrakar)

Kathmandu – “Jaya Shambho! Jaya Shambo!!” Some 1.2 million Hindu devotees thronged into the Pashupatinath temple area chanting these words on the day of Shivaratri festival on Sunday.

Famous Pashupatinath Temple located in the heart of Kathamndu is one of the famous pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Every Hindu has a desire to visit this Shiva temple listed in the World Heritage site once in their life. This pagoda temple has been standing on the bank of the Bagmati River since Kathamndu, previously buried under a lake, was turned into a human settlement.

This year the site drew the largest crowd of Hindus from Nepal, India, Indonesia and other countries. Several western tourists were also seen roaming in the areas on Saturday and Sunday. Some 4,000 naked and semi-naked saints and sadhus had occupied the temple premises as well as the nearby areas.

The government of Nepal bid farewell to these sadhus Tuesday by giving each of them them at least Rs. 2000.

Covered with ashes, many of the sadhus were seen puffing marijuana provided by the government free of costs with the local youths around the holy sites while serpentine queues of devotees were heading towards the main temple from early in the morning to late night on Sunday.

Illuminated Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu during Shivaratri festival (Photo: Rajendra Chitrakar)

The crowd was so big that many devotees were unable to go near the temple in the afternoon. The Hindu temples of Nepal have been drawing bigger crowd of Hindus especially after the country was turned into a secular state from a Hindu Kingdom in 2008.

The government, as usual, had given a public holiday, which also resulted in the swelling of the crowds in the holy site.

Other Shiva temples located outside Kathmandu were also crowded with the Hindu devotees.

Brahma (creator), Vishnu (caretaker) and Shiva (destroyer) are the main gods (trinity) of all Hindus. According to latest census, 81 per cent people in Nepal are Hindus. Nepal southern neighbour, India, has the largest Hindu population in the world.

However, lately many Christian organizations are active in Nepal to converse Hindus into Christians.

The growing conversion of poor Hindus to Christians in Nepal has been criticized by the Hindu spiritual leaders of the region.

During his recent four-day visit to Nepal Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shanker urged the Nepali politicians and media workers to work to control the conversion.

Sadhus heading home from Pashupatinath temple (Photo: Bikash Dware)

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