Crackdown on courting couples at Nepal''s Pashupatinath temple

Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Feb 2 (PTI) Alarmed at "amorous behaviour" inthe Pashupatinath temple precincts, authorities managing theworld famous shrine in the Nepalese capital have decided topenalise the "love birds" through fines up to Rs 500.

"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 topenalise love birds who indulged in unruly activities in thisholy place," he told PTI.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river, Pashupatinathis regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva and the oldestHindu shrine in Nepal. It is also listed under the UNESCOWorld 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 the 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," he 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 panel tomake the functioning of Pashupatinath Temple more transparent,following a Supreme Court directive to streamline themanagement of the Hindu shrine.

The temple had been at the centre of a row whenPrachanda-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 from centuries-old tradition whereBrahmins from South India have led the worship at one of theholiest Hindu shrines.

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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