NEPAL: Pashupati Area Development Trust completes preparations for Shivaratri

Pashupatinath temple
The Pashupati Area Development Trust has completed all celebratory preparations for Maha Shivaratri, the biggest annual Hindu festival that is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. The festival falls on Monday this year.

According to the Trust, this year, the number of pilgrims is expected to be increased in comparison to earlier years, as pilgrims from India are expected to come to Nepal after observing the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith that is celebrated every 12 years in which Hindus gather to bathe in sacred places such as in Haridwar Kumbh, Allahabad, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha, and Ujjain Simhastha. “Many pilgrims and sadhus have already arrived after observing the Kumbh Mela, and the number will rise because there is a religious significance in visiting Pashupati on Shivaratri after observing Kumbh Mela, ” said Pradeep Dhakal, member secretary at the Trust.

A good number of Sadhus have already arrived at the premises of Pashupati, and have taken shelter at different areas like Ram Mandir, Bankali, and Bhasmeshwor. “This is my 25th time in Pashupatinath to observe Maha Shivaratri. I arrived today after observing Kumbh Mela,” said Paya Giri, 62, a Hindu ascetic who hails from Kalighat, Kolkata. 

Officials at the Trust said that over 1.1 million visitors will be visiting the Pashupati area on the one-day festival on Monday. Till Friday over 1,500 holy men and women from various parts of Nepal and as far from India have already arrived at the premises of Pashupatinath. Over 5,000 sadhus are set to observe the festival this time. Last year, around 700,000 pilgrims, including 3,500 sadhus, had visited the Pashupatinath temple to observe the festival.

Sadhus (holy men) lunch at Ram Mandir Ashram, on the premises of Pashupati temple, in Kathmandu. Hundreds of sadhus have already arrived in Pashupati for the upcoming Shivaratri festival, which falls on Monday.
This year, the Trust has allocated Rs5.2 million to provide accommodation and food for the sadhus visiting the temple. Besides that, in preparation for the festival, the trust has conducted the Pashupati cleaning campaign and has painted the premises and decorated the area with electric lights.

The trust has also installed 1,000 lockers for visitors to keep valuable items of the pilgrims safe during worshiping hours. “These lockers will be safer,” said Dhakal. “We request our pilgrims not to wear ornaments, but if you have, please keep it in a locker. This will be safe.”

Talking to the Post, Dhakal said that pilgrims this year will not have to wait for more than two hours to worship at the main temple. The trust has managed three different lines from Uma Kunda, Jayabageswhori, and Pinglasthan to assist the pilgrims. The gate of the main temple will open at 4am.

As a part of the security arrangement for the festival, over 6,000 security personnel will be deployed—4,000 from the Nepal Police and 2,000 from the Armed Police Force.

Another 100 personnel—from the Central Investigation Bureau, Shiva Sena, scouts, and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s  City Police—will also be deployed for the festival.

Various organizations will be distributing free meals, tea, and water for visitors, and be providing free health camps. __TKP

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