More than 6,000 saints, including from India, have arrived in Kathmandu for offering prayers at the famed Pashupatinath Temple on Friday on the occasion of Mahashivaratri, the festival dedicated to Lord Shiva. All four entrances of the temple remained open on Friday to facilitate the smooth flow of devotees for offering prayers at the 5th century historic shrine situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, according to the authorities.
According to the Pashupati Area Development Fund (PADT) officials, around 6,000 security personnel and 5,000 volunteers have been mobilised to manage the crowd in the area on the day of Mahashivaratri. They were also provided free food and shelter. Hindus across the world are celebrating the annual festival on Friday this year. Thousands of visitors, from different parts of Nepal and India, visit the Pashupatinath Temple on the day.
Some one million visitors are expected to visit the temple till tonight. The temple was opened as early as 3 am on Friday. President Bidya Devi Bhandari also visited the temple to offer prayers amidst tight security. Around 30 organisations provided various facilities such as drinking water and medical facilities on the occasion.
The temple has been decorated with electric lamps and colourful flowers and welcome gates were erected at entry points of the holy site.
A 111-member main organising committee headed by Minister of Tourism and Culture Yogesh Kumar Bhattarai, was formed to celebrate the occasion.
The temple's authorities has also strictly restricted use of cannabis and other narcotic drugs on the occasion issuing a warning that anyone caught trading in cannabis or other psychoactive drugs will be charged. The 5th century Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu dating back to 400 AD. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several of his Cabinet colleagues have visited the temple.