Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees celebrate the festival

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of worshipers gather to worship at a revered Hindu temple in Nepal’s capital on Tuesday as coronavirus cases dwindle and life returns to normal.

About 1 million worshipers were expected to visit the temple of the Hindu god Shiva at Shivaratri, one of Nepal’s most popular festivals, as temples, schools and markets have all started to open in recent weeks after the fall of the number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal. . On Monday, 180 new infections were reported, compared to a peak of more than 9,000 in January.

Pashupatinath Temple located in Kathmandu is one of the most important Hindu temples and is popular among pilgrims. During the festival, devotees fast all day, visit the temple and bathe in the Bagmati River.

The festival is also famous for freely smoking marijuana, which is classified as a narcotic and punishable by imprisonment. In the wooded and riverside area next to the temple, Hindu holy men were joined by worshipers smoking marijuana.

Nepal was famous for marijuana and other narcotics in the 1960s when hippies traveled to the Himalayan nation. Shops and teahouses advertised and sold it legally – until marijuana was banned in 1976.

Although still against the law in Nepal, a group of lawmakers and ruling party activists are trying to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana. Currently, marijuana use is punishable by prison terms of up to one month for users and 10 years for traffickers.

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