Mar 7, 2016- More than 1.1 million devotees are expected to visit the Pashupatinath temple on Monday on the occasion of Mahashivaratri.
Temple authorities said devotees will be allowed inside the shrine through all the four gates which will be opened at 3am. Although worshippers had to queue for hours in the past to get into the sanctum sanctorum of Pashupatinath, this time around people can get in within less than 30 minutes, Executive Director of Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) Ramesh Kumar Upreti claimed. Those who pay a fee of Rs1,000 get in without waiting at the queue.
Mahashivaratri literally means the greatest night for devotion to Lord Shiva. The festival falls on the 13th day in the dark fortnight in Falgun on the Hindu calendar. Pashupatinath Temple is regarded as one of the holiest Shiva shrines in the world.
The festival consists of â€˜warmingâ€™ Shiva in the belief that the lord also feels cold on this day. People light bonfires at public squares, houses, temples and shrines and perform prayers. According to Upreti, 3,000 personnel from Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force will be deployed for security. The trust has allocated Rs6 million for overall management of the festival. The temple is all decked up for the festival.
Weed ban has no effect
Contrary to the PADT claim that drugs such as marijuana and cannabis will be prohibited during Shivaratri, a large number of people could be seen smoking weed on Sunday.
â€œItâ€™s a corrupt practice to take marijuana and other drugs during the festival,â€ PADT Executive Director Upreti said. â€œWe will request naga babas, sannyasis and yogis to not use or sell drugs.â€
But sadhus and devotees are keen to defy the order. â€œMarijuana is not drugs. Itâ€™s a prasad [offering] of Lord Shiva. Even he smokes it,â€ said Baba Kripashankar, who arrived from Sarlahi. â€œWe smoke to please the lord and nobody can stop us.â€
Young men could be seen sharing the bong with the sadhus on Sunday while weed dealers cashed in on the opportunity. Police are said to keep tabs on illegal activities, including smoking of marijuana, in the area.
Sadhus come from far and wide
Kathmandu: The PADT on Saturday welcomed around 200 Naga babas, sadhus who have given up all material things including their clothes, into the temple premises.
Naga babas are the main attraction of the festival. Close to 5,000 sadhus (holy men) from Nepal and outside have arrived for the festival. According to the PADT, the number is expected to grow by Monday evening. Last year, 7,000 Sadhus visited the temple. Two temporary shelters–one at Tilganga and another at Bankali–have been set up for the guests. Nearly a dozen organisations have joined hands to provide free meal, water and health check-up.
Most of the sadhus arrive from New Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Vrindaban in India. Sannyasis, ascetics who have renounced worldly pursuits and seek spiritual knowledge, will stay at Tilganga. PADT will provide them with food, accommodation and logs for fire, besides giving dakshina (offering) between Rs100 and Rs5,000 .
Baba Kashidev, who came from Jammu, said true devotees of Lord Shiva come to Pashupatinath for Shiva-ratri irrespective of where they are in the world.