The emerald valley of Kathmandu is home to more than three thousand temples. But that also means an equal number of heaps of dirt around these temples. It is hard to come across a temple in Kathmandu without its share of dirt and stink.
Devotees had better pay a visit to Gods and Goddesses with more faith and hope than with delicious offerings, nourishing milk and juicy fruits. One thing is so true: Gods and Goddesses do not live on such things. Such offerings can feed a sizable famished lot. Again, the absence of such offerings in holy places will mean the presence of less dirt. To top it all, the prohibition of sacrifices in such places is a crying need. Kathmandu witnesses sporadic campaigns of cleaning, especially around the holy rivers and holy sites. The current pretext engendering such campaigns is, of course, the imminent festive season. As such, stretches of Bagmati and Bishnumati Rivers have already been “cleaned”.
Interestingly, the upcoming festivals — Dashain and Tihar — are celebrated in the name of various Gods and Goddesses. At least during such celebrations, Gods and Goddesses have every right to have clean environs. Devotees, who thus devote their time and energy to create better living conditions for Gods and Goddesses, may justifiably expect divine boon instead of bane.
May divinities reside in “cleaner and healthier” conditions! After all, they never seem to say “may human beings in Kathmandu live in cleaner environment!” Anyway, the moot question is: why is that the holiest sites lack the cleanest looks? Few will disagree: the surrounding area of Pashupatinath is one of the dirtiest places in Kathmandu. That the site is holy is certainly not enough, neither is the fact that the sanctum sanctorum is clean!
Pashupatinath area is grungy not because of cremations but because of rotten offerings thrown wantonly; devotees, sadhus and beggars resorting to bowel movements in every cozy corner, dogs’ feces and the general tendency to “throw anything anywhere and everything everywhere” in an uncivil and slipshod manner.
At last, the sudden surge of masked people in Kathmandu is but a tip of the iceberg: in no distant future, even divinities may be game for putting on masks. After all, even for Gods, there should be no disgrace in imitating “health-friendly” approaches!