It’s been a week since the row over the appointment of the priests in Pashupatinath erupted. The Maoist led government, with the direct orders from the Prime Minister, has appointed Nepali priests replacing the Indians in the largest temple of Nepal. Some people have protested the move for different reasons and they have their own vested interests. There is no need to created hue and cry over the appointment. In fact, the removal of the Indian priests and appointment of Nepali citizens was a long due. The Indian priests were literally looting the temple with the help and encouragement from former royals. There was no accountability in the temple. We were kept dark about the donations and offerings made to the temple. All that had to be changed for the betterment of the temple.
The bhandaris, the traditional temple caretakers, have been protesting the new appointments and preventing the new priests from performing rituals at the temple, saying the new appointments violate traditional norms. While claiming so, bhandaris, the partners in crime perpetrated by the Indian priests are trying to secure their source of income rather than expressing concern over traditional values.
Some people, including a local leader from Nepali Congress, have blasted the government for intervening into the affairs of the temple. Such condemnation, particularly in this aspect, is unnecessary and that only politicizes the issue.
Former king Gyanendra has joined the chore today asking the government to restore normalcy in the temple. Normalcy will return only when these agitating bhandaris are tamed.
Here is the background on the incident from Republica:
SC stays appointment of Pashupatinath priests
By KUSHAL REGMI/KIRAN CHAPAGAIN
KATHMANDU, Jan 1: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ordered the government not to appoint for the time being new priests at the country´s most revered Pashupatinath Temple.
Earlier on Wednesday, lawyers and the chief bhandaris or caretakers of Pashupatinath Temple had filed a writ petition against the prime minister, the government and the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust (PADT) accusing them of violating laws while appointing new priests at the temple.
The bhandaris, the traditional temple caretakers, have been protesting the new appointments and preventing the new priests from performing rituals at the temple, saying the new appointments violate traditional norms.
But PADT officials on Wednesday afternoon broke the lock placed by the bhandaris at the west gate of the temple, to allow the new priests inside.
Four days after their appointment as head priest at the main temple and priest at Basuki temple respectively, Dr Bishnu Prasad Dahal and Saligram Dhakal finally performd the nitya puja (daily worship) late this afternoon with police protection.
Tension has been brewing at this spiritual centre of all Hindus of the world because this is the first time that Nepalis have been appointed as head priest (mul bhatta) and priest at the temple.
PADT had resorted to a prime ministerial prerogative to alter the centuries-old tradition of appointing an Indian as priest at the temple. Continue reading it here in Republica