Only now, after a couple of days have passed, am I understanding the festivities that we observed on our return from Pokhara to Kathmandu. Puskar, our fabulous G Adventures guide took us to a local festival that was intense, fascinating and overwhelming! We heard that about 1.5 million people had come to Kathmandu for this very special celebration. I am including some information from the web to help describe what we were briefly a part of.
“Sadhus, the dreadlocked holy men usually seen lurking around Hindu temples, are essentially an Indian phenomenon. However Nepal is also one of their favourite stomping grounds. Sadhus are especially common at Pashupatinath, which is rated as one of the subcontinent’s four most important Shaiva pilgrimage sites. During the festival of Shiva Raatri, Pashupatinath hosts a full-scale sadhu convention, with the government laying on free firewood for the festival. sadhus also make liberal use of intoxicants as a path to spiritual insight. It was Shiva, in fact, who supposedly discovered the transcendental powers of ganja (cannabis), which grows wild throughout hill Nepal. Inside the complex, the atmosphere changes to one of complete abandon. The tension in the lines is replaced by carelessness and a disregard for others. Many locals and tourists head to Pashupatinath simply to get high. The Sadhus can be relied upon to supply marijuana. As the day carries on shouts of “Jai Sambu” (Praise Shiva) fill the Sadhu den at the back of Pashupatinath. Far from the eyes of parents, young men smoke and things can turn rowdy. “
They certainly were rowdy! Ashes were thrown on us and we were crushed in crowds and it was only noon! Thanks to my fellow travellers for the following pictures. Thrilled to have experienced this unique event though I would not rush back tomorrow!