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Thousands throng Nepal’s Pashupatinath temple during Mahashivaratri celebrations

By Santosh Ghimire
Kathmandu, Feb 18: Thousands of Hindu devotees including hundreds of sadhus from India have thronged the revered Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu on Saturday to celebrate Mahashivaratri.

Around 1.6 million devotees are expected to visit the Pashupati today, officials said here. The doors of the Pashupatinath temple were opened at 2:30 am today morning.

Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari and high-ranking officials are scheduled to visit Pashupatinath today to offer worship to Lord Shiva.

Gauri Shankar Parajuli, a senior official at the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), said that Jagadguru Nischalananda Shankaracharya of the Purvamnaya Sri Govardhana Peetham of Puri, Odisha, is in Pashupatinath for the first time to celebrate Maha Shivaratri.

He is scheduled to deliver a lecture on Vedic knowledge and culture at the holy Pashupatinath Temple premises located on the bank of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu.

Amidst a function, Shankaracharya will unveil the statue of Aadi Shankaracharya at the Shankaracharya Math, which was reconstructed after the 2015 earthquake. He is also scheduled to interact with Nepali Vedic scholars from various universities.

According to the PADT, which oversees the management of Pashupatinath Temple, around 1,100 sadhus have arrived from India. The PADT will take care of them during their stay and will arrange accommodation.

The government has mobilized at least 7000 security personnel to provide security. Pashupatinath area has been illuminated with colorful lights, paper flags and garlands.

Pashupatinath is a world-famous Hindu shrine that has been listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1979. It is considered to be the oldest and holiest temple of Lord Shiva.

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu)

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