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One of most popular Hindu pilgrimage site, the Pashupatinath temple is located in Kathmandu, Nepal, on the banks of the Bagmati River. The temple is associated with centuries of ancient history and culture that amazes all who visit the temple for pilgrimage or tourism. The Hindu supreme god, Lord Shiva is worshiped at this temple. Several legends are associated with the establishment of the temple. According to one legend, Lord Shiva had once taken the form of an antelope and was running around in the forests of the region. The other gods attempts to bring back Shiva to his usual self, tried to capture the antelope. In their attempts, a part of the antelope’s horn broke down and got buried in the ground. Years later, a cow of one of the herdsmen in the region started drenching the earth, in the place where a part of Shiva was buried, with her milk. When the earth in the area was dug, a Shiva lingam was discovered. This divine part of Lord Shiva became the subject of worship and soon a temple was established in the area.
photo fromWikipedia Another legend claims that the temple was built by a Linchchhavi King, Supuspa Deva, a devout worshiper of Lord Shiva. A third legend also exists regarding the origin of the Pashupatinath temple. It claims that Lord Shiva and his wife, Parvati, both were so fascinated by the natural beauty of the Kathmandu Valley that they decided to transform into deer and prance around in the pristine forests of the region. As Shiva’s absence started creating trouble in heaven, the other entire God’s started persuading him to return back to his original divine form. Though Shiva finally yielded, he was so enchanted by the beauty of the place where he spent time as a deer that he declared himself as the “Pashupatinath”, the Lord of all animals. He also made it clear that all who would arrive at the divine site from then on, praying to him with a pure heart, would be free from being born in the animal form.
As fascinating as its history is Pashupatinath temple is one holiest temple in the continent and listed in world heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. The main building of the temple is built using the Nepalese pagoda architectural style with a two-tiered roof made of copper layered with gold. At the top, the temple bears a spire made of solid gold. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the main temple or the inner sanctums of other temples, they can wander about anywhere else in the temple complex. Tourists are also allowed to witness the Hindu cremation ceremonies on the eastern banks of the Bagmati River. Since Pashupatinath is regarded as the Lord of All Animals, deer and monkeys are allowed to roam fearlessly in a nearby deer park and the temple grounds and no harm is inflicted upon such creatures by anyone. Tourists, however, are advised to keep their valuables hidden from the eyes of the mischievous monkeys in the area. Other unique sights at the temple include the Dharmashila, a sacred oath taking stone, an imposing statue of a giant bull, a four-faced statue, and several small and large temples. Since ages, the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal has served as an important pilgrimage site for Hindus from around the world. Thousands of devotees arrive at the temple each day to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
The main temple complex had been constructed in the last of the 17th century. Many other temples were built on both sides of Holy Bagmati River during the last few centuries. Maximum of the temples are devoted to Shiva, and most of them are made of stone. There are many stories and legends about the temples. It is said that who died in Pashupatinath temple is reborn as a human.
Every year, millions of Hindu devotees visit the temple, especially on Maha Shivaratri; it is the only day in Nepal where marijuana (cannabis) is tolerated by authorities because of its religious and spiritual importance. Special occasions at the temple witness an even larger crowd of about a few hundred thousand. On the occasion of Shivratri the temple is decorated in the best possible way with flowers and floral garlands at every doorway, passages, and balconies of the temple. A day of the Lord himself smoking and is celebrated annually in honor of the god Shiva. This is a large number of pilgrims arrive from all over Nepal and India gathering at the temple grounds to worship the Lord of the temple. Pilgrims also fast the entire day, take ritual dips in the Bagmati River and pray to the God for happiness and prosperity. Another special occasion celebrated here is the Teej festival which is primarily attended by women who arrive at the temple, usually draped in red sarees, to pray for a long and happy married life with their partners.
Daily Rituals at Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath temple is centre of attraction for Hindu pilgrims so it has active participation of people all times of the day, every day. The daily rituals of Pashupatinath Temple are as follows:
4:00 am: West gate opens for visitors.
8:30 am: After arrival of Pujaris, the idols of the Lord are bathed and cleaned; clothes and jewelry are changed for the day.
9:30 am: Baal Bhog or breakfast is offered to the Lord.
10:00 am: Then people who want to do Puja are welcomed to do so. It is also called Farmayishi Puja, whereby people tell the Pujari to carry out a special Puja for their specified reasons. The Puja continues till 1:45 pm in the afternoon.
1:50 pm: Lunch is offered to the Lord in the main Pashupati Temple.
2:00 pm: Morning prayers end.
5:15 pm: The evening Aarati at the main Pashupati Temple begins.
6:00 pm onward: Recently the Bagmati Ganga Aarati; done by the shores of Bagmati, has been gaining lots of popularity. We can see the shores of Bagmati crowded mostly on Saturdays, Mondays and on special occasions. Ganga Aarati along with Shiva’s Tandava Bhajan, written by Ravana, is carried out on evening Ganga Aarati.
7:00 pm: Door is closed.
Pashupatinath temple is one the biggest Hindu temple in the world. Millions of people visit this temple every year. Hinduism has a great impact on Pashupatinath temple and tourism of Nepal. Religious tourism in Pashupatinath temple is one of the contributors to the Nepalese tourism industry. It has not only generated thousands of jobs but also has been one of the main media to promote Nepalese culture, lifestyle and traditions. At the same time, it has grown as a strong contributor to the Nepalese economy. Its has been providing food, shelter for many people especially to the poor, the orphan children and old age people. Many people have devoted their life for the betterment of the Pashupathinath temple.
We also have lots of negative impacts of Hinduism in Pashupathinath temple. Daily thousand and thousand of Hindu pilgrimage visit this famous temple. These many people are major cause pollution around the premises pashupathi temple. Garbage, plastics all thrown all over the area. Cremation is the most important death ritual of Hindus and cremating dead ones in Pashupathinath is century-old practice. The Hindus cremate their dead relatives on the bank of Baghmati River outside the main temple on the elevated platforms. The ashes are then thrown into the river with the belief that it is auspicious. The Baghmati river is thus polluted not only by the ashes but also some religious item like flowers vermilion, etc. Pashupathi nath temple has huge income but waste management in the temple complex in not effective and impressive too. The surrounding of pashupathinath temple is also well known for buying different kinds of drugs. So government of Nepal and Pashupati Development Committee should focused on sustainable development of this famous religious world heritage site so it can preserve our history, culture, lifestyle and also help in economic and tourism development in Nepal.