Mahashivaratri, a yearly Hindu festival which is celebrated in devotion to Shiva holds the great religious importance. Festival celebrated on 13th night and 14th day of Magha month of the year according to Hindu calendar, in 2014 fell on February 27. Once the celebration of Mahashivratri in Nepal is talked about, Pashupatinath Temple can’t be kept aside.
Lord of destruction yet very revered, Shiva the supreme Hindu Lord inhaled the entire venom that could have destroyed the universe and hence his body got the bluish complexion. The wild of the wildest, Lord Shiva is one of the three most significant denominations of Hinduism. A third eye on his forehead, a snake snuggling around his neck, the crescent moon graced and the River Ganga emerging from his entangled hair, his hands holding his weapon trident (Trishul) and the damaru as his instrument are the most identifiable and iconic attributes of Shiva.
Mahashivratri is not only about the religious aspect attached to the festival. It also holds equal significance regarding the crazier side of it; the mass of several hundred thousand getting high inhaling marijuana. The government report says 7-8 hundred thousand of devotees visited Pashupatinath during Mahashivratri 2014.
On the 26th night the temple premises and its vicinity were adorned with colorful lights which illuminated the entire area as broad daylight. Fresh signs of crazy stuffs were abundant. The wooden fires, surrounded by hemp elated holy saints, cigarette butts dispersed throughout and mass chanting “Jaya Sambho”; the entire place was occupied by spiritually intoxicated devotees.
During the day on 27th, Hindu women, most of them in red attire were seen standing on a long queue which extended beyond the temple ground to the streets of Kathmandu. Hungry and thirsty, yet incredibly patient; patience to offer the prayers to Shiva linga (a symbol of Lord Shiva’s inseminating organ which is considered very holy by Hindus), the line of swarming devotees kept on stretching further and the place became more crowded. The holy songs dedicated to Shiva continuously filled the ears and the volunteers to systemize the mess were sweating to wet.
On the other side of Bagmati River devotees, resident Sadhus and yearly visitors to Pashupatinath including naked babas, aghoris (holy sadhus who live on human corpse) depicted the height of the craziest state of devotion to Shiva. Civilization has not made an impact on those babas (saints). Perhaps, being the devotees of Shiva they might have transformed their external appearances which resembled their master Shiva.
Our tour guides and drivers in Lhasa and the rest of Tibet did an excellent job. They were friendly, knowledgeable, good humored and we had a feeling that they did their best to make it a very good trip!