KATHMANDU, FEB 23 – Around 700,000 Hindu devotees are expected to visit the Pashupati nath Temple for the Shivaratri festival on Thursday. To manage the sea of people, route their way to the temple while ensuring their safety and convenience, the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) this year has made arrangement for four lines, among them one will be ‘priority-based’, where one could pay Rs 1,000 for fast track access into the temple. The three other line ups will be the general queue requiring no entry fee.
“From the normal lines, it would take 45 minutes to one hour to reach the main temple,” said Gobinda Tandon, the member secretary of the PADT.
The PADT has urged the people not to line up between 1 pm and 2pm during the day of the festival, as special ritual is held inside the temple.
With only less than a week remaining for the festival, preparation works at the temple is well under way. While decoration and construction works on the Pashupati nath premises have completed, various sub-committees have been entrusted to carry out specific responsibilities concerning the pre and post events of the festival.
Security is a major concern for the organiser for the festival dedicated to Shiva, who has been stereotyped as the god who smoked marijuana and thus given an excuse to the worshippers, mainly the youths, to get high on the day as a cultural necessity.
Although the Sadhus are allowed to smoke cannabis on the day of the festival, but we will forbid the general worshippers from indulging in joint tokes, Tandon said“ “And for that, security personnel will be mobilised inside the temple area to keep an eye on the people.
The Sadhus have also been urged not to sell spliff”.”
According to him, a total of 3,000 security personnel from the Nepal police and the Armed Police Force will be deployed to keep law and order during the festival. The PADT also has decided to deploy around 10,000 volunteers to assist the devotees.
To handle the monetary offerings made by the devotees, the PADT has also set up an SBI bank counter on the temple
premises to facilitate the transfer and exchange of money. Similarly, Nepal Investment Bank is also opening an ATM counter at Gaushala to assist people with transactions.
The PADT has allocated Rs 6 million to conduct this year’s Shivaratri. The budget, among other things, will also cover the expenditure for food and firewood to the Sadhus and devotees, who come from as far as India for the festival and camp in the Pashupati area. “
“We expect at least 115,000 visitors from India alone this ye”r,” Tandon said.
Meanwhile, the new temple of Vaishnav Devi constructed at the Bankali area will be opened for public on Tuesday. Visitors will have to pay Rs 50 to enter the temple, while the entrance is free for elderly and disabled.