Some 1.5mln devotees visit Pashupatinath on Shivaratri

By Binu Shrestha, Kathmandu, Feb. 17:  Hindu devotees throughout the nation celebrated Mahashivratri, one of the biggest Hindu festivals, on Tuesday, paying obeisance and offering special worship to Lord Shiva.

Thousands of devotees from within and outside the country had congregated in Kathmandu to offer worship at the temple of Lord Pashupatinath.

A big religious fair was held at the Pashupatinath Temple area on the occasion of Mahshivaratri. Large crowds of devotees were seen at the inner as well as outer precincts of temple from early in the morning.

The roads around the temple were jam-packed with devotees, sadhus, beggars, foreign pilgrims, children, elderly people, onlookers and tourists.

This year, the number of devotees from India was visibly high, thanks to the massive media publicity the Pashupatinath Temple had received following the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014, said Taranath Subedi, Treasurer of Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT).

He said that among the visitors, around 700,000 to 800,000 came from India and Terai belt of Nepal. Also, 300 to 400 Malaysian tourists visited the temple and among them 100 came into touch with PADT and paid their homage to Lord Shiva.

Around 1.2 to 1.5 million devotees and visitors are believed to have visited  Pashupatinath premises and among them around 600,000 people had paid homage to Lord Shiva at the main temple after standing on long queues, he informed.

“We tried our best for managing the queues and made provisions to allow at least two devotees to offer worship within a second's time and 50 to 60 devotees in one minute. But the large number of devotees made the task of managing the crowd quite difficult this year in comparison with the last year,” he said.   

According to him, no serious incident or untoward event took place at the temple area today.   

He added that queues of devotees started from mid-night but the four doors of the temple were opened at 3.00 AM. All four gates would remain open till 3.00 am on Wednesday.

The serpentine queues of devotees had reached quite far from the temple premises during the day time as the number of visitors and devotees increased considerably.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office (MPCO) had deployed 6,000 security personnel to maintain sound security and an additional 300 traffic policemen to manage traffic in the area and roads leading up to Pashupatinath. The movement of vehicles for a day on the road sections stretching from Chabahil to Gaushala, Bageshwori to Gaushala, Gyaneshwore to Ratopool up to Gaushala had been blocked.

There are thousands of idols, temples and monuments of Lord Shiva with various names across the country, which are worshipped on the day of Mahashivratri.

The different kinds of saints, sages and sadhus are the attraction at Pashupati area. Many sadhus had come from various parts of the country and India. Around 5,000 sadhus from India and Nepal had arrived here to mark the occasion.

Several myths and legends regarding Mahashivatarti are popular in the Hindu world.  According to one of the most popular legends, it is the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is also believed that Lord Shiva performed ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction on the auspicious night of Mahashivaratri.

According to another popular legend in Linga Purana, it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by the devotees of Lord Shiva and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.

Hindus from all over the world accord high significance to this particular day. They believe that they will overcome all sins and attain moksha by offering worship to Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri. 

Outside the valley, the Shiva temples were crowded with devotees. A big fair was organized at Haleshi Mahadev of Khotang district, Riseshwor Mahadev of Dolakha and Arjundhara Temple of Jhapa. Haleshi Mahadev is regarded sacred by the people of Kirati origin and the followers of Buddhism and Hindu religion.

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