Nepal govt dragged to court over Pashupatinath’s treasury row

Bharat Jangam,a Hindu activist and writer,has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court.

Written by Agencies | Kathmandu | Published:January 30, 2011 10:50 pm

A Nepalese Hindu has dragged the government to court over its decision to open the main treasury of Nepal’s famous Pashupatinath Temple that is believed to have remained padlocked for centuries.

Bharat Jangam,a Hindu activist and writer,has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court on Thursday,pleading to strike down the decision taken by the caretaker government to open the main treasury of the fifth century shrine.

Jangam has argued that the caretaker government has no right to open the more than 2000-year-old treasury of the Hindu shrine.

The court is set to hear the case on Monday. Located on the banks of the Bagmati river,Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva (Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal. Jangam,who had earlier dragged the Maoists to court over its decision to dismiss Indian Brahmins from the holy

Hindu shrine,has argued that in a secular state the government has no rights to interfere in religious matters.

If the government cannot open the treasury of a Buddhist monastery or a Christian church how can it interfere with the valuable assets of the Pashupatinath temple,he asked.

The main treasury ‘mul dhukuti’ of Pashupatinath is believed to contain priceless items,including Nagmani (snake jewel),Gajamani (elephant jewel),Nilmani,(blue precious stone).

Last month,the government decided to open the treasury to maintain a record of the valuables and to ensure their safety,said officials at Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT),that manages the affairs of the temple.

“We have also formed a 22-member committee to keep records of the treasury and to manage the valuables,” PADT’s treasurer Narottam Vaidya said.

PADT officials say they are planning to open the treasury and list the valuable items in order to properly manage them and to make the affairs transparent.

The PADT is also planning to establish a museum within the temple premises where the valuable and priceless items will be kept for public display,he added.

But now we have to wait the Supreme Court’s decision,the temple’s treasurer said.

Earlier this month,the government set up a top panel to make the functioning of Pashupatinath Temple more transparent,following a Supreme Court directive to streamline the management of the Hindu shrine.

The temple had been at the centre of a row when the Prachanda-led Maoist coalition government in 2008 sacked the chief priest and other Brahmins from South India,and appointed Nepalese priests to replace them.

It had triggered widespread protests across the country as it was a break with centuries-old tradition where Brahmins from South India have led the worship at one of the holiest Hindu shrine.

Later,Nepal’s Supreme Court had stayed the government regulation aimed at ending the 300-year old monopoly of Indian priests at the famed Pashupatinath.

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