KATHMANDU: A large number of devotees from Nepal and India have started thronging the premises of the Pashupatinath Temple on the eve

of Bala Chaturdashi — a religious event during which devotees pray for their deceased family members.

Also referred to as ‘Sat Bij Chharne Din’, the day is marked with devotees offering seven varieties of holy grains, fruits and coins to deities.

Bala Chaturdashi falls on the 14th day after the full moon in the month of Kartik (late November — early December) as per Bikram Sambat calendar.

On the occasion, the devotees also perform ritual walk along the Slesmantak Forest which is situated just above the Pashupatinath Temple. As per tradition, devotees light traditional oil lamp and recite mantras, keeping themselves awake all the night to ensure that the lamp keeps burning.

The next day, as day breaks, the devotees, who spent their sleepless night, take a holy dip in the Bagmati River and offer prayers to the guardian deity of Pashupatinath to wish eternal peace to departed ones.

They set out for Guheshwori Temple to scatter the holy seeds before sunrise.

Legend has it that, every single grain scattered is as valuable as its weight in gold. Pashupati Areas Development Trust (PADT), entrusted with the responsibility of looking into the rituals, has made final arrangement of security and essential service supposed to be provided to the pilgrims.

Narottam Baidhya, treasurer, PADT informed that they were prepared to avert any untoward incidents during the occasion.

Meanwhile, the authorities are yet to open the eastern and western gate of the Pashupatinath temple. The gates have remained closed ever since the priest appointment row in August.

“We are committed to do the needful for smooth movement of the devotees,” Baidhya reassured.

Women and elderly account the largest population among the pilgrims in the holy site. Nepal Red Cross Society among others have set up makeshift health camp to provide medical service to the pilgrims. Hundreds of security personnel belonging to Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have been deployed at the venue.

Metropolitan Traffic Police Division has declared the road leading to Pashupatinath Temple from Gaushala, Mitra Park and Gauri Ghat no-go zones to vehicles.