HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees thronged Pashupatinath Temple to worship Lord Shiva and sang hymns in praise of the deity on the occasion of Mahashivaratri.
The holy site was decked up like a newly-wed bride with lights, colourful gates and pennants fluttering in the gentle breeze. The illumination, particularly at night, made the temple premises mesmerising. Loudspeakers installed in all corners of the temple premises blared hymns and devotional songs.
Naga Babas camping in the temple were the centre of attraction, especially for youngsters. High on cannabis, they performed their arts and blessed devotees.
Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) estimated that over 800,000 pilgrims had thronged the holy site today. PADT had opened all four doors of Pashupatinath temple from 3:00 am and had set up seven queues for the devotees.
However, PADT and Mahashivaratri Main Celebration Committee failed to live up to their promise of making it possible for devotees to worship within two hours.
Devotees had to brave the scorching sun for up to four hours in the serpentine queue. Some of them even complained the queues were ill-managed.
President Dr Ram Baran Yadav visited the temple at around 3:30 pm and offered prayers. Upon emerging from the temple, he told mediapersons that he wished happiness and prosperity for the people, and prompt rescue of Nepali migrant workers stranded in Libya and their safe return.
Three hours after the president left, former King Gyanendra Shah and former Queen Komal guarded by security forces and cadres of the pro-Hindu party Shiva Sena Nepal reached the temple. Royalists chanted pro-monarchy slogans.
Security was beefed up to prevent any untoward incident. SP Govinda Ram Pariyar, said the festival passed off peacefully although there was some rowdyism and some people were arrested.