Nearly one million devotees from India and Nepal on Friday thronged the famous 5th century Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu to observe Maha Shivaratri festival. Security has been beefed up with the deployment of 6,000 security personnel in the vicinity of the temple situated on the banks of Bagmati river for the annual Maha Shivaratri festival to be observed on Saturday.
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Police are keeping a close watch on illegal trade of marijuana, hashish and alcohol as possession, sale, distribution and smuggling of narcotics are punishable. Over 6,000 policemen from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department have been mobilised to maintain law and order, said Superintendent of Police Pradyumna Kumar Karki, chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police.
A senior police officer said that only seers and saints who have travelled to the temple — one of the holiest Hindu sites — from Nepal and India will be allowed to consume marijuana and hallucinating substances on religious grounds. However, they will be strictly barred from selling marijuana and such substances to devotees. All the four gates of the temple remained open for devotees from 3:00 am Friday. Emergency health care centres, security posts, information desks, first-aid treatment centres have been set up.
Around 4,000 seers were expected to visit the temple for the celebrations, Pashupati Area Development Trust said. The Nepali Army organised a special function at the Army Pavilion, Tundikhel Open Ground in Kathmandu on the occasion of the Nepal Army Day coinciding with the festival on Friday. On the occasion, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Nepali Army, garlanded the ‘Brave Soldier’ monument at Tudinkhel and received the guard of honour. Prime Minister Prachanda also attended the function.