Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu attracts Indians

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Kathmandu, Mar 6 (UNI) Hindus from Nepal and India are offering prayers in Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu today on the occasion of Mahashivratri festival.

Devotees started visiting the temple early today, which is expecting more than 350,000 devotees, including about 3000 sadhus mostly from India, the officials of the Pashupati Development Trust said.

A large number of Hindus from India have come to the temple this year. Mr VP Krishnan of Tamil Nadu said, ''This is one of the greatest festivals of the Hindus and we are bound to fulfill our religious duties by visiting Pashupatinath temple.'' Mrs Shivani Singh from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh said, ''I have been visiting the temple regularly for the last 15 years.'' Pashupati is the name of lord Shiva. The Mahashivratri festival is celebrated every year on the 14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Falgun in the Hindu Calendar.

Meanwhile, there was a long queue of devotees in the Pashupatinath temple, stretching to more than a kilometer.

Security has been tightened in the area as some people pelted stones on suspended King Gyanendra after the devotees were stopped from worshipping.

The officials said the devotees would be given time to worship at the temple even during the visit of the senior officials.

Gyanendra has now been barred from even giving alms and offerings to the Sadhus.

''From this year, the country's monarchs would not be allowed to present alms and offerings to hermits and ascetics - called sadhus, naga babas, jogis, shramans on various occasions - who come on a pilgrimage to Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu from all over the nation and India to celebrate the Mahashivaratri festival,'' Nepalnews reported today.

Pashupatinath Temple's Guthi Sansthan would distribute the alms and offering to the Sadhus on behalf of the government.


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