Cannabis smoke dampens Shivaratri spirit

KATHMANDU: Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act forbids buying and selling of drugs in the country. The law can slap fines and an imprisonment of up to 20 years if convicted in drug related crimes.

But a site at the Pashupatinath Temple area today made a mockery of the law. It was but smoke and mirrors. The holy site of Hindus smoked round-the-clock. The breeze smelled the cannabis as far away as Mitrapark and Gaushala.

The police were mute spectators to the ugly scene where hundreds of ascetics, Sadhus and teenagers, male or female, were found to be shaken up by the puff of wild cannabis.

One could easily pass the ready-to-eat cannabis stalls. The cannabis vendors openly sold the mild drug either in loose or cigarette sticks.

Anyone who is found to be indulging in puffing cannabis shall be punished with an imprisonment of up to one month or a fine up to Rs 2,000. However, the buyers and sellers were let off the hook and were freely smoking the cannabis.

Mahashivaratri is the greatest festival of ascetics since Lord Shiva is himself believed to be an ascetic deity. Now the festival is no more popular with ascetics alone. The youngsters are being elated to the dark side of the festival day after day by resorting to cannabis and bhang.

Hundreds of youngsters flooded the temple premises and bought cannabis from the Sadhus and vendors.

With cannabis considered a holy offering of Lord Shiva, smoking the wild plant has become a customary practice among teenagers and the sadhus alike.

Govinda Tondon, a culture expert expressed a serious concern about the social malpractice. “Broad daylight dealing of cannabis between the Sadhus and the youngsters under the cover of once-a-year festivity shouldn’t be taken for granted. The law enforcement agency is required to be proactive.”

Sushil Nahata, member secretary, Pashupati Area Development Trust, admitted that they did not dare to fight the custom, but said police were keeping tight vigil on the public offences to prevent any untoward incident.

The police have busted a huge amount of cannabis from various places in the temple area and made dozens of arrests for allegedly causing inconvenience to the pilgrims.