Mahasnan fest in Changu Narayan in eye of storm

Bhaktapur, December 14:

Allegations are flying thick and fast over the mismanagement of Changu Narayan Mahasnan Festival, which concluded yesterday.

Guthi Sansthan, Bhaktapur, has been accused of serving poor quality of food and also laxity in security apparatus during the weeklong fest. The annual festival starts on the 11th day of the waxing moon and ends on the second day of the full moon. Though this ritual is observed every month in Pashupathinath, Changu Narayan follows it only once a year.

“Rampant corruption plagues the Guthi Sansthan. It has been supplying poor quality food for puja. Clashes between the participants and organisers also are a routine affair every year. These incidents are taking the sheen off the glorious tradition, which started during Lichchhavi era,” alleged Chakradhara Nanda Rajopadhaya, main priest, Changu Narayan temple.

“Guthi authorities are producing inflated bills to make a fast buck. They are buying beaten rice for Rs 40 per kg and making bills for double for that,” he added. Poor arrangement during Bhandel Bhoj (a feast organised for people whose surnames are Bhandel) last Tuesday exposed the sorry state of affairs. “Guthi Sansthan should organise the feast during the day rather than evening,” he suggested.

Guthi Sansthan, however, has rubbished the allegations, saying that they have been regularly providing the necessary items for the puja and the feast.

Keshav Bahadur Shrestha, chief of the Sansthan, said, “First we provide all the necessary

puja items and food stuffs for the festival. We calculate the expenses later.” He said around Rs 2.5 lakh was spent every year for the Mahasnan festival.

According to Shrestha, the Sansthan supplies a truck of cereals and pulses, 26 muris of bitten rice, 14 muris of Syabaji (a kind of food), 16 different varieties of pulses, around 30 pathis of curd, 16 dharni ghee, 16 dharni honey, 30 pathis of oil, 16 dharni sugar and many other varieties of food items.

“Due to the delay by the Rakami— people involved in the puja and feast like pujari, helper and others — the Bhandel Bhoj takes place late in the evening every year,” Shrestha added.

The Bhandel Bhoj was organised at 12 pm on Tuesday.

Taking the advantage of darkness, some outsiders carried away food items and also thrashed Guthi Sansthan’s official, security personnel and some Bhandels.