Maha Shivratri

The sadhus recently came to Pashupatinath to prepare for the Maha Shivratri festival. Maha Shivratri celebrates the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, and it is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. According to Wikipedia, “unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.”

In the days leading up to the festival, the sadhus and their entourages pose for photographs in exchange for tips. And, this being a Shaivite festival, many sadhus also spend their time smoking very strong hash.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple is a 5th century temple on the banks of the Bagmati River. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and a major pilgrimage destination.

The most important part of the compound is on the other side of the river from where we started. (Tourists are not allowed in the main temple.) Here, there are numerous shrines to deceased sadhus (holy men). As this is a Shiva temple, each shrine contains a lingam.

On Saturdays, this part of the temple grounds are filled with people exercising and meeting friends.

Also monkeys.

There were cremations going on across the river. Especially during the worst of the pandemic, the funeral pyres were burning all day and night.