Number of devotees at Pashupati up, says PADT

Kathmandu, February 26:

The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) today claimed that the number of devotees visiting the Pashupati area on Mahashivaratri this time has gone up.

Around 200,000 devotees paid homage to the Pashupatinath till 8 pm today, PADT said. The PADT expects around 250,000 people to visit the temple till late into the night. The number of devotees was around 200,000 last year, according to the PADT.

Ram Prasad Dahal, coordinator of the publicity committee of the PADT, said: “The number of devotees has gone up this year with more Kathmanduites visiting the temple this time as compared to previous years.”

Dahal said over 230,000 devotees would visit the temple during this Mahashivaratri festival. The devotees will continue to flock to the temple till 1 am on Monday, he said.

According to Dahal, 150-60 devotees on average visited temple per minute when all four doors, plus the main door, were opened; but 50-60 people visited the temple on average when only one door was open.

Only 10,000 devotees from foreign countries, including 7,000 Indians, came to pay homage at the temple this year. However, the turnout of Kathmanduties and people from terai areas was higher as compared to previous years, Dahal said.

There were altogether three queues via which the devotees got into the temple. But the queues were divided into seven sub-queues on reaching the main temple. All the five gates, including the main gate, was opened from early morning to 1 pm but four gates were temporarily closed for about two hours in the afternoon.

The number of babas visiting Pashupatinath this year increased as well. Dahal of PADT said that 1900 babas, including Naga Babas, visited to the temple this year as compared to 500 last year.

Despite the PADT’s claims that the devotees were able to pay homage to lord Pashupatinath within an hour of queuing, devotees said they had to wait upto five hours to offer their prayers.

People started paying homage to lord Shiva from 3 am today. People who queued till 10 am managed to pay their respects in a couple of hours. But the devotees who joined the queue late in the morning had to spend three to five hours in the queue.

One thirty-five-years-old Yadav Koirala said he had to stay in queue for four hours to reach the temple.

Devotees lathicharged

KATHMANDU: Over a dozen persons were injured, some seriously, when police batoncharged devotees who were trying to force their way out of the temple area at Gaushala after being blocked for around four hours. Traffic and and the flow of devotees were halted at Gaushala due to the royal visit to the Pashupati temple at around 6:15. Over 5,000 people were stranded at the Temple side, Baneshwor side and Sinamangal side. Children were seen screaming and police had to rescue the elderly peope who fainted due to “suffocation.” More than five persons were pickpocketed. Police also said they have received a complaint of stealing. —HNS