Today we celebrated Maha Shivaratri. It is a Hindu festival where Shiva is celebrated and a national holiday in Nepal, so most enjoyed their day off. We have decided to attend the celebrations. As our Nepalese students told us, the best time to attend the festivities is in the afternoon, because in the morning the streets are the most crowded. Following their advice, we enjoyed a good breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel and some began to transcribe their interviews.
At about 3 o'clock we took taxis to the Pashupatinath temple. This temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a sacred place for Hindus. We had to walk a few minutes and it was hard to believe that the number of people is less than in the morning. Thousands of people were on their way to the temple, bringing gifts such as milk or fruit to Shiva. At Maha Shivaratri, married women pray for the well-being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered the ideal husband.
The streets were so crowded that it was a big challenge for us all to get through and not get lost. We went up a small hill to have a perfect view on the temple’s side and we were lucky to watch the spectacle from a more remote location.
Although it is illegal to smoke grass in Nepal, the rule does not seem to apply on Maha Shivaratri. Everywhere we could smell that special sweet aroma of marijuana.
We somehow managed to get close to the temple and we saw interesting rituals and some of us received a special blessing from a sadhu. Sadhus are Hindu religious ascetics.
Night was drawing when we left the Pashupatinath temple. On our way back home we saw people sitting around bonfires and we could hear their singing until late at night. A day full of new cultural experiences came to an end.