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Friday, 22 March 2013

Hindu festival of Shivaratri celebrated in Kathmandu

Photo: Saddhu holy man at Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu

I arrived to Kathmandu for our Spring trekking season on March 10th and when being driven out of the airport I noticed the usual road to the centre of Kathmandu was closed and there were many people around. The reason for the large crowds was that I had arrived to Kathmandu during the Shivaratri festival.

The Shivaratri festival is celebrated every year in Kathmandu in reverence of Lord Shiva with offerings of Bel leaves and fasting for the day and night during a long vigil. This festival is centred on the Pashupati Temple complex located on the Bagmati river not far away from the international airport. This area is crowded with pilgrims from Nepal and India as well as many holy men (or saddhus) who walk around naked with their bodies smeared with ash. A ritual among Saddhus is to smoke marijuana in worship of Lord Shiva and certainly lots of this drug is smoked during Shivaratri.

During Shivaratri the area around Pashupati complex has many food stalls and across the river in the forest there are lots of temporary shelters and campfires. At midnight the festival starts when the priests start to make offerings to Lord Shiva and throughout the night the pilgrims and saddhus enter the main temple with milk, flowers, coins and rice placed near the Lingam of Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva is a Hindu deity known as the “Destroyer “or “Transformer” and is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. Lord Shiva lived on Mount Kailash in Tibet as well as a householder with his wife Parvati and two sons and daughter. Lord Shiva can be easily identified as he always carries a trident and has five serpents as ornaments.

If you are interested in visiting Shivaratri festival then the timing varies in the western calendar as is celebrated each year on 13th and 14th night of Maagha or Phalguna month of the Hindu calendar. Please get in touch with us we will let you know the dates of this festival for next year and if you like we can organise a visit with one of our sightseeing guides.

Roland Hunter

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