KATHMANDU, FEB 27 -
With all the preparations completed, Pashupatinath temple is all set to welcome the devotees and revellers, expected to be hundreds and thousands in number, for the celebration of the Shivaratri
festival on Thursday.
Organisers putting up the rope lines, cooking pots shimmering over outdoor ovens and whorls of people chatting around bonfires and the entire temple surrounding lit with sparkling lights were the common sights seen on the festival’s eve.
Hundreds of Sadhus had started thronging the temple days before the Shivaratri
while many others joined them on Wednesday. Devotees from as far as India have also arrived to celebrate the festival dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god.
The organisers said they are expecting around 700,000 Hindu devotees this year. Among them, around 115,000 visitors are expected
from India. The event organiser, Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), has arranged four courtyards—Swargadwari, Bairagi Akhada, Annapurna Bhandar and Nanak Math—on the temple premises for their stay.
PADT officials said the temple gate will open from 3:30 in the morning, marking the official beginning of the festival. “We are eagerly waiting to welcome the devotees and we will do our best to provide the best service possible,” said Gobinda Tandon, member secretary of the PADT.
The PADT has made arrangements for four lines to manage the sea of people and route their way to the temple. One of the lines will be
‘priority-based’, where one could pay Rs 1,000 for fast track access into the temple. The PADT will also deploy around 10,000 volunteers to assist the devotees.
PADT has urged the people not to line up between 1 pm and 2 pm, as special ritual is held inside the temple. President Ram Baran Yadav is set to visit the temple at around 2 pm, while the visit from former king Gynendra Shah is also expected.
To handle the monetary offerings made by the devotees and make the collection transparent, the PADT has also set up an SBI bank counter on the temple.
“This time the devotees will get to exchange their money easily, while the bank has also assured us of accept the collected coins, which were hard to manage in the past” said Tandon.
Nepal Investment Bank has also opened an ATM counter at Gaushala to assist the people visiting the temple.
More than 3,000 police mobilised for security
In view of maintaining security during the Shivaratri
, one of the biggest Hindu festivals, the Nepal Police will deploy 3,399 police personnel in the Pashupati area.
The police has planned to deploy 949 security personnel, led by a superintendent of police, from 10 pm on Wednesday till 8 am on Thursday. The second round of duty will be conducted by 949 police personnel from 8 am to 6 pm on Thursday. During the night, 849 law enforcement officers will be deployed in the area. The security personnel will also include 558 female police, 80 plain clothes officers from the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, Hanumandhoka, and a special police force.
“A team of 552 police have already begun their duty since 10 am today and they will be there for the next 48 hours,” said Superintendent of Police (SP) Narayan Singh Khadka of Metropolitan Police Range, Hanuman-dhoka, on Wednesday. SP Khadka himself will also be taking the command of the security in and around the Pashupati area during the festival.
Around 700,000 Hindu devotees are expected to visit the Pashupatinath Temple for the Shivaratri
festival on Thursday. Senior Superinten-dent of Police (SSP)
Hemanta Pal, also the spokesperson of Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office, Ranipokhari, said they have identified 32 areas requiring high security surveillance and each area will have 20 police personnel on patrol. The areas includes Bankali, Ramghat, Aryaghat, Rato Pul, Purano Baneswor, Pashupati Old Age Home and Jay Bagheswori, among others.
Similarly, 13 temporary police posts will be created in command of inspector in North Gate, Bishworupa, Bankali Parking, all four Shivalaya, Pingalastan, Ram Mandir, Uma Kunda, Kailash Hill, inside the Pasupati temple and Sifal Ground.
SSP Pal said police from these posts will control theft and sell and use of marijuana and hashish.
“We will also have four mobile teams of armed security personnel in the areas, while reserved force will also be kept in Gaurighat, Bhasmeshwor, Gorakhnath Hill and Bankali,” said SSP Pal adding that two teams of police, each with 25 personnel, will also be on standby in Gaushala and Tilganga.
The police has also planned to deploy 24 police personnel at six shoe stands in the temple vicinity.
SP Khadka said Close Circuit Television cameras will also be in place for surveillance during the festival. “People can report about missing valuables or theft at our information desk, where officers who can speak Hindi and Maithili will be stationed to serve the devotees who cannot speak or understand Nepali.”