Fulfilling his desire to pray at one of the most revered Shiva temples on the last Shravan Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered special prayers at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu and said he “felt extremely blessed”.
Before leaving the temple premises where he spent almost an hour, Modi wrote in the visitor’s book: “Pashupatinath unites Nepal and India and I pray that he continues to bless the people of the two countries. This is what I seek.”
Gobinda Tandon, member-secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust, later said: “He took part in a special pooja which was conducted by Ganesh Bhatta, the head priest of the temple.”
He gifted 2,000 kg of sandalwood to the temple for the daily ‘chandan prasad’ and was in turn handed sandalwood blocks and framed photographs of the 17th century temple, a world cultural heritage site.
Legend dates the temple on the Bagmati river to the 5th century BC but Tandon says written texts place it in the 5th century and the existing structure was built in the 17th century. Only four priests can touch the Shiva idol. The Bhattas, the Bhat-Brahmin priests, are from south India.
In a saffron kurta with a red-border shawl on the shoulder, Modi arrived at the temple at 9.30 am. Around the premises, a huge crowd had collected, eager to catch a glimpse of the Indian prime minister. Army helicopters hovered overhead and police blocked entry to the premises as Modi was led in while 108 brahmins chanted Vedic hymns.
He headed first to the temple of Vasuki, the serpent king, and then took a ‘parikrama’ of the premises which has several other deities.
Inside the main temple, head priest Ganesh Bhatta conducted the special pooja and Modi emerged wearing a rudraksh garland, sandal paste on his forehead.
He waved to onlookers and posed for photographs before exiting the temple premises. He later tweeted: “Felt extremely blessed on offering prayers at the Pashupatinath Temple this morning.”