These days one can pay Rs 15,000 and conduct evening aarati at Pashupatinath temple. I don’t know who introduced this tradition in Kathmandu and when. It certainly is not origin to Nepal but a borrowed tradition from India, where they do evening aarati in the Ganges. And here it’s on the banks of most sacred River Bagmati, flowing East of the Pashupatinath temple.
Although its only Spring, we are already two seasons ahead, landing on Monsoon and escaping Summer. My family reached Pashupatinath at 6:00 PM on May 1, to participate in evening aarati hosted by my cousin and her husband in the name of their late fathers. Rain poured as we got off of taxi and hailstone pelted strongly. We were drenched up to the knee. My mom couldn’t stop complaining about the weather and we were all worried if aarati would be cancelled due to incessant rain. But, luckily rain stopped, clouds floated away and we had a wonderful aarati session as planned.
For those who don’t know what evening aarati is: it is an hour-long oil wick lamps offering to Lord Shiva and the river Ganges starting at 19:00 hours sharp. Alongside are melodious devotional songs, the ringing of bells, blowing of conch and breeze that carries the fragrance of camphor. 1 hour will vanish in blink of an eye. It is so serene and peaceful.
All the blogs and articles about Pashupatinath starts “One of the most sacred Hindu temples of Nepal – Pashupatinath Temple is located on both banks of Bagmati River on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu”, which is true because that is how we clichedly perceive Pashupatinath like we do “Buddha was born in Nepal” for Buddha.
Pashupatinath for me is one of the dear temples in Nepal or even in the whole world because of its history, its location, its vastness, its sacredness and its inclusiveness of many other tiny temples dedicated to the manifestation of Gods Shiva and Bishnu. The maze of 184 Shiva Lingas which is so unique and mostly because of our beloved Shiva Shambhu.
And the photography prohibition in the temple vicinity only adds the curiosity to the outsiders. But having said that, I have seen many photographs stolen on mobile phones.
As you enter the temple you see huge Golden Nandi (bull), Lord Shiva’s stride sitting right in front of the main temple as if guarding the Him forever.
Whenever I see this Nandi, I recall the incident a few years ago, when a girl, probably her first visit to Pashupatinath, merrily pointed at Nandi and exclaimed “Mommy katro bhaisi” (Mom, look at the huge buffalo), and her embarrassed mom hushed her with, its nandi not bhaisi’