Courting couples to be barred from Pashupatinath

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Shirisih B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Feb 1 (PTI) Concerned over "amorousbehaviour" on its sacred premises, authorities managingNepal''s world famous Pashupatinath Temple are planning tointroduce fines to deter courting couples.

"We are banning amorous behaviour by couples in theholy Pashupatinath temple area," said Sushil K Nahata, chiefof the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) that managesthe affairs of the temple.

"We are introducing a new regulation in a week topenalize love birds who indulged in unruly activities in thisholy place," he told PTI.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river,Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva(Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal. It is alsolisted in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.

"This is not a botanical garden or public park wherelove birds are allowed to do whatever they like," he said.

Nahata said courting couples are seen in and aroundtemple area, including the Shlesmantak forest, "kissing,hugging and embracing".

"Now we are introducing Rs. 200 to Rs 500 fine onthose violating the rules in Pashupati," Nahata said.

He said with the introduction of new rules, drug usersand hooligans will also be discouraged in the area.

Earlier this month, the government set up a top panelto make the functioning of Pashupatinath Temple moretransparent, following a Supreme Court directive to streamlinethe management of the Hindu shrine.

The temple had been at the centre of a row when thePrachanda-led Maoist coalition government in 2008 sacked thechief priest and other Brahmins from South India, andappointed Nepalese priests to replace them.

It had triggered widespread protests across thecountry as it was a break with centuries-old tradition whereBrahmins from South India have led the worship at one of theholiest Hindu shrine.

Later, Nepal''s Supreme Court had stayed the governmentregulation aimed at ending the 300-year old monopoly of Indianpriests at the famed Pashupatinath.

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