Monday, March 14, 2011
KATHMANDU, NEPAL, March 4, 2011: The feast in honor of God Shiva, that took place on 1 March in Kathmandu, was transformed into a huge protest against the authorities of the temple of Pashupatinath, with over a hundred wounded and dozens of arrests. The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), the company that manages the temple, put a ten euro (US$13.90) charge for a ticket to enter without queuing for the March 1 festival. This provoked the wrath of hundreds of thousands of people who cannot afford the ticket and had been waiting in queue for up to eight hours without food and water.
Manju Sharma, aged 76, said: 'The elderly and women were in the queue, while many young people and tourists entered the temple to worship Shiva just because they paid for it'. She adds - I had to wait for more than six hours without eating to pay homage to Shiva. I curse my poverty. '
[HPI note: The average Nepalese makes US$ 43 in a month; the poor earn considerably less.]
The festival in honor of Shiva (Mahashivaratri) is one of the most important celebrations of the Hindu calendar. Each year, the Pashupatinath temple attracts pilgrims from all over the country and India, but also many tourists. In 2010, authorities established the possibility of reserving tickets, to handle the huge influx of the faithful and help older people. In fact, many pilgrims accuse the PADT of wanting to make money out of the religion, giving priority to enter the temple to tourists, among the few who could afford the expensive ticket.