Temple for Lovers
For some reason, this place of worship in Nepal has acquired a special significance for courting couples, much to the consternation of local authorities.
Make a prayer, not love’ should be the new mantra for the management of the Pashupati Temple in Nepal , as it is forced to ban couples seeking the Lord’s approval for their courtship in one of the oldest temples in the country.
The Pashupatinath or Pashupati Temple, as it is more commonly known, is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the Lord of the Animals. It is located on the banks of River Bagmati in Deopatan near Kathmandu.
The temple attracts thousands of Hindus pilgrims every year, especially from neighboring India. The shrine boasts of pagoda style architecture, roofs with gold and copper coverings, doors plated with silver and numerous statues, all made with precious stones and metals. Pashupati Temple is deemed as the most important Shiva shrine in the region and its importance has been acknowledged enough to win it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Considered to be an architectural gem, the temple is seen to represent the cultural, traditional and religious background of Hindus. Much history is attached to this ancient edifice. Recently a controversy surrounding the temple came to light when the rising cases of corruption within the temple were brought to light. In fact, temple enjoys being in the limelight on an occasional basis.
Every year, the temple hosts the festival of Shivaratri held to commemorate the transformation of Lord Shiva. Devotees from far and wide flock to the temple to participate in the festival, which is held between February and March every year. Since the temple is eminently recognized to be the holiest shrine of Lord Shiva, it pulls in one of the largest gatherings of pilgrims at this time of the year.
The sacred site is strictly forbidden for non-Hindus. But for the ones hoping to catch a glimpse, the temple’s majestic view can be seen by all from a hill known as ‘Aryaghat’ directly opposite the shrine.
A chink in the breathtaking view is the growing number of couples found lounging on the numerous steps leading to the entrance of the shrine. Previ- ously a holy site for the religious, it has now become a favorite hotspot for dating couples. And blessings from the lord are certainly not on their minds.
The sacredness of the site is under serious threat as more and more people visiting the shrine show complete disregard for moral behavior. Blatant smoking, inappropriate public displays of affection and more disrespectful behavior harm the image of this world heritage site. Taking photographs is strictly prohibited and yet people are found doing just that.
The situation has turned so grave that the management of the temple has introduced fines to discourage couples from making the premises an easy and accessible dating place. The fine is also extended imposed on anyone found smoking or taking pictures of the holy site.
To make sure everyone entering the temple is aware of the new rules, a team of security guards has been appointed. If anyone is caught breaking the law, a fine of Rs. 500 ($7) is charged.
While the task of maintaining the sanctity of the shrine poses quite some difficulty, authorities hope that with the new laws in place, some order and decency will be restored at this holy place. The writer is a frequent traveler and writes with keen interest on her traveling experiences.
The stairs lay deserted after the recent ban on courting couples
by the Pashupati Temple.