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President Bhandari performs atonement worship

Bhaktapur, Dec 15

President Bidya Devi Bhandari has performed special worship for atonement at the premises of Pashupatinath Temple this morning in order to open it for devotees from Wednesday. The Temple remained closed for nine months due to coronavirus pandemic. President Bhandari performed worship to seek forgiveness as it was compulsion to close the shrine over the risk of coronavirus infection.

On the occasion, the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) had organized the special worship at the main temple, Pashupatinath, and 125,000 lamps were lit, said Treasurer of the Trust, Dr Milan Kumar Thapa. Similarly, Basukinath, Jalnarayan, Lal Ganesh, Surya Narayan, Kirtimukh Bhairab, Astamatrika, Nawagraha, Hanuman and Satyanarayan were also worshipped. Member-secretary of the Trust, Dr Pradeep Dhakal, told RSS that the Pashupatinath Temple is to be opened to the devotees from Wednesday by adopting health safety protocols. In the initial period from Wednesday (December 16), the devotees would be allowed entry from the western gate and they will have to exit from the same gate after offering obeisance.

They will have to compulsorily wear the face mask. Furthermore, the devotees should maintain social distancing of two metres. The Special Puja, singing of hymns and other rituals will however remain suspended at this moment. Offering of regular prayer and worship, aarati, food offerings and the crematorium services were continued during the nine months. The Temple would remain open from 6 am to 12 mid-day initially, informed Treasurer Dr Thapa. Various Hindu organizations such as World Hindu Federation had been carrying out symbolic protest at the Pashupatinath area, saying that the devotees have not been able to visit the Temple for worship as it remained closed for the public for nine months.

The organisations demanding opening the temple have also organized a special worship in the Pashupati precincts today. PADT stated that special security alertness is to be adopted in the Pashupati area as the temple is opening after long amidst the existing risk of coronavirus infection. A meeting attended by all the security bodies was organized in this connection, according to Treasurer Thapa. Even the religious tourists have not arrived in Pashupatinath area since the last week of March.

The shops selling flower and items for worship also remained closed for nine months which incurred the PADT loss of Rs 700 million, shared PADT executive director Dr Ghanashyam Khatiwada. PADT former member-secretary Dr Gobinda Tandon, who has done his Ph.D. research on Pashupati area, said it is not found in the history and genealogical annals regarding the Pashupatinath Temple remaining shut for so long.

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