KATHMADNU, Feb 13: Hindu devotees across the country celebrated Maha Shivaratri, one of the biggest Hindu festivals, with a lot of fanfare on Tuesday. Over 350,000 devotees throng the Pashupatinath Temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva, according to the temple officials.
Devotees queued for several hours to get into the main temple and offered worship to Lord Shiva. Following complaints from the devotees, the PADT had lifted a controversial provision that allowed only those who could afford to pay to worship at the shrine from last year. This has led to the increase in the number of devotees at the temple, according to officials.
Devotees from in and outside the Kathmandu Valley as well as from India reached the temple to celebrate the festival. All the four doors of the temple were kept open for the devotees from 3:15 am. According to Administrative Officer of PADT Rebati Raman Adhikari, the northern, eastern and southern gates of the main temple were open for the devotees in general while the western gate was open for very important persons. While 2,400 security personnel were deployed for the security, over 1,500 volunteers were mobilized from various organizations to aide the devotees.
Various organizations had also set up drinking water facilities and snacks for the comfort of the devotees queuing up to get into the temple. Devotees were able to get into the temple within two to three hours after standing in the line. After the worshipping, many devotees were also seen dancing and singing.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari also reached the temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva. After offering her prayers, she made a brief tour of the main temple premises, PADT officials informed. The main temple was teeming with Nanga Babas on the day of the festival. They were without clothes and their face smeared with fire ashes. Devotees go to them to seek blessings.
The PADT had made special arrangements for elderly and disabled devotees. Dozens of Sadhus had arrived at the temple from various parts of India a week before the festival. Sadhus are also a major attraction at the temple during the festival. They live in various ashrams and the PADT supplies them with wooden logs for their comfort to ward off the cold. After few days, the PADT will bid farewell to the Sadhus with gifts.