03/04/2011, 00.00
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Poor Hindu protest ten euro to pay homage to Shiva

by Kalpit Parajuli
Over 500 thousand Hindu pilgrims remain outside the temple, waiting up to eight hours in a queue. The cost of the ticket, allows rich tourists to jump the queue. In the clashes over a hundred wounded and dozens of arrests. Hindu pilgrims: "The demand for money to enter the temple is an insult to people's devotion."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The feast in honour of the god Shiva, that took place on 1 March in Kathmandu, was transformed into a huge protest against the authorities of the temple of Pashupatinath, with over a hundred wounded and dozens of arrests. The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), the company that manages the temple, put a ten euro charge for a ticket to enter without queuing for the March 1 feast. This provoked the wrath of hundreds of thousands of people who can not afford the ticket had been waiting in queue for up to eight hours without food and water.

Manju Sharma, aged 76, said: "The elderly and women were in the queue, while many young people and tourists entered the temple to worship Shiva just because they paid for it”. She adds - I had to wait for more than six hours without eating to pay homage to Shiva. I curse my poverty. "

The festival in honour of Shiva (Mahashivaratri) is one of the most important celebrations of the Hindu calendar. Each year, the Pashupatinath temple attracts pilgrims from all over the country and India, but also many tourists. In 2010, authorities established the possibility of reserving tickets, to handle the huge influx of the faithful and help older people. In fact, many pilgrims accuse the Padt of wanting to make money out of the religion, giving priority to enter the temple to tourists, among the few who could afford the expensive ticket.

Shankar Lamichhane, a Nepalese pilgrim, says that the temple authorities are making a profit in the name of religion. "Faith - he said - is the same for all and the demand for money is an insult to people's devotion”.  Bharat Jung, a Padt official, said he was also contrary to the ticket system. "A ticket to enter a temple - he says - it is humiliating for all Hindus and there can be no privileges related to money. "

According to Padt estimates, this year there were over 600 thousand faithful. To maintain security authorities deployed more than 4,100 police and military, 8 thousand volunteers and more than 2 thousand Padt employees were on the ground to aid devotees.

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