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April 17, 2020

Pashupatinath in lockdown: Sadhus deprived of food and bull remains out of the temple

Bikaram Giri

On last Tuesday, as we approached the Pashupatinath premises. It was shrouded in complete silence. The whole pashupati had a deserted look due to lockdown.

This is the place where a large number of people usually come to cremate their deceased ones. But after the lockdown, hardly few people are seen here cremating their deceased ones, though the government has not restricted anything.

We saw three or four people sitting on the edge of the Bagmati River and perhaps one dead body near them. Perhaps these people had come there to cremate someone. And from the other side of the Bagmati a Sadhu was asking these mourning people to give him some water to drink. However, these people who were totally engrossed in their personal woes did not pay any heed to the request of the Sadhu.

Dr. Ghansyam Khatiwada who is the executive director of Pashupati Development Trust (PDT) says that despite government facilities arranged at the Pashupatinath hardly few people come here during the lockdown period as compared to usual hours for reasons unknown.

Then, we were suddenly stopped by a bull standing across the Bagmati bridge. The bull looked quite hungry. Then we came across an Indian Sadhu sitting across the road that led to the jungle area known as Mirgasthali.

The Sadhu instantly complained that they have not been properly fed by the PDT and even the bull was not allowed to enter the temple area. The road leading to jungle area was contaminated with the bull dung scattered here and there. It seemed that sanitation has not been maintained since lockdown was imposed.

Bulls were found sheltered inside the cottage of the Sadhus. On being asked why the bulls stayed with the Sadhus, the Sadhu said the since the PDT did not bother about feeding the bulls of Pashupati, these bulls were fed by the Sadhus so the bulls usually stayed with them.

Another Sadhu named yogi Vednath said, “This is not good that PDT has banned entry of bulls inside the temple as bulls are the carriers of the lord Pashupatinath.” He also complained that Sadhus were being deprived of the foods and facilities from the DPT.

“DPT had provided us one sack of rice. But we have not yet consumed that rice in protest against DPT negligence towards our needs. We are not beggars. We want to return it or pigeons will eat it,” said Vednath.­­

These Sadhus used to depend upon the foods offered by the visiting devotees when lockdown was not imposed. Now they seem to be surviving on the surplus food stuff they had collected previously. They have also been feeding the foods to those visitors who visited the Pashupati area. They claimed that they usually feed at least 50 hungry people who come to them during the day time.

However, PDT Director Khatiwada said that the trust had managed all logistic facilities for the Sadhus including foods for the bulls, deer, monkeys and pigeons. The trust has been feeding nearly 300 to 500 people every day.

However, the bulls were restricted to enter the temple only for the lock down period as they fear that bulls might contaminate the temple premises with the bull dung. He also said that after the lock down period the sweepers are not attending the sanitation works so bulls are kept out of the temple.

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