Million footfalls at Shivaratri fest

KATHMANDU, FEB 28 -

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotee thronged the Pashupatinath Temple to offer prayers and celebrate the Shivaratri festival on Thursday.

The festival organiser, Pashupati Area Development Trust, said around 1 million people visited the temple, exceeding their estimate of 700,000.  Although the large turnout caused some management difficulties, the festival went largely peaceful, said Gobinda Thandon of PADT.  

“Our team did a pretty well job, considering the size of the crowd. It would not have been possible without the assistance from the volunteers and security personnel,” said Tandon. Devotees had started queuing up from the wee hours of Thursday morning to enter the main temple and offer their prayers. Purna Maya Shrestha, 77, who has been visiting the temple on Shivaratri for the last 25 years, was the first person to offer prayers to Lord Pashupatinath.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Shrestha, who was few persons behind the line leading to the western gate of the main temple and was asked by the doorkeepers to enter first. “I feel really blessed for being the first person to worship the Lord,” she said. In the afternoon, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and Vice President Parmananda Jha also visited the temple. Former king Gyanendra Shah also offered prayers at the temple.   

A large number of security personnel were mobilised in and around the temple area to assist the sea of people and maintain law and order.

 The Nepal Police had deployed 3,399 law enforcement officers in the Pashupati area. A contingent of 949 police officers were mobilised near the temple vicinity since 10 am on Wednesday.

The police force was replaced by a next set of security personnel from 8 am until 6 pm. Superintendent of Police Narayan Singh Khadka, who led the force, said they were able to handle the crowd successfully. He added that 849 police officers were deployed in the Pashupati area on Thursday night.

Posted on: 2014-02-28 08:23