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    Posted March 2, 2014 by
    Kathmandu, Nepal
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

    Contrasting ways to celebrate-Mahashivratri at Pashupatinath

    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.
    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. Mahashivratri and Pashupatinath Temple are complement to each other. During Mahashivratri, hundred thousands of pilgrims from Nepal, India and Hindus of around the world throng to Pashupatinath.
    On this year’s Mahashivratri, few of us from Explore Himalaya went to Pashupatinath. Experience was incredible. The temple premises and its vicinity were adorned like a newly wedded bride. We noticed the lighting system which had probably illuminated the entire area as broad daylight on the previous night. Fresh signs of activities happened on the previous night were abundant. The remains of wood fires, scattered pieces of heated sugarcanes while hitting them on the solid rocks and cigarette butts dispersed throughout; we gossiped about the wild side of the festival and hence outburst a huge laughter. Mahashivratri is one of the most religious Hindu festival but the wildest one for sure.
    Hindu women, most of them in red attire were standing on a long queue which extended beyond the temple ground to the streets of Kathmandu. Hungry and thirsty and 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 thronging devotees kept on stretching further and the place was becoming more crowded. The holy songs dedicated to Shiva continuously filled our ears and the volunteers to systemize the mess were sweating to wet. We decided to sneak to the other side of Bagmati River and we did, making our way through the choke-full crowd. Our amazement had no limits. On the other side of the River from where we just came was dominated by the devoted women; whereas the opposite side portrayed the extreme wilderness.
    As per the Hindu myth Lord Shiva who himself dwells in the perfect isolation of Himalayas at Kailash Parbat, most of the times meditates in these isolations intoxicated by marijuana. On this 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.
    All of a sudden, one of the babas valiantly asked us if we wanted to buy few sticks of marijuana filled in the cigarette. Was it happening? Is selling and consuming marijuana legal in Nepal? We were astonished. Slowly our eyes scanned thoroughly, and our astonishment reached the peak as we discovered the entire place sold, bought and consumed marijuana. Illegal yet so common! Marijuana which is considered as blessing of Shiva is consumed in very large scale in Nepal and India during Mahashivratri but trading it, was the most shocking part. We humorously gave a thought to trade it on the festival next year. The entire place was intoxicated yet the spiritual faith was very well maintained. Weird yet holy saints who walk around the temple premises completely naked intoxicated by hashish during the festival was another exciting part of our visit to Pashupatinath during Mahashivratri. Craziest stuffs was happening all around in a very peaceful way on the opposite bank of Bagmati River whereas the holiest devotees waited the whole day just for a glimpse of Shiva and Shiva linga in the main temple of Pashupatinath. Two contrast sides to devotion were very worthwhile observing and we had a great experience.

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