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Maoists storm Pashupatinath temple

Maoists storm Pashupatinath temple

Publication: Deccan Chronicle
Date: January 2, 2009

The customary worship, Nitya Puja, at Nepal's holiest temple Pashupatinath was disrupted on Friday for the first time in over 250 years following the storming of the shrine by Maoist cadres, defying an order from Nepal's Supreme Court.

The Maoist government has deployed riot police at the temple in the capital to stop protesters as CPN-Maoist party cadres escorted a newly appointed Nepalese priest into the complex.Maoists and cadres of the Young Communist League (YCL) stormed into the temple at 4 pm on Thursday, escorting the new priest to replace Indian Brahmins, who have led prayers at the historic shrine for the past 300 years. Their move triggered immediate protests from Hindu bodies and people residing in the vicinity.

More than a hundred Maoists and cadres of the YCL broke the lock of the main shrine and took the newly appointed priest, Bishnu Prasad Dahal, inside to capture the head priest's seat, a former member of the Pashupati Area Development Trust, Mr Narottam Vaidya, said.

He said the customary worship or Nitya Puja at the temple had been disrupted for the last two days - the first time in 261 years - following the government's intervention in the affairs of the temple. The tradition of South Indian priests performing puja started during the reign of Bhpalendra Malla, said Mr Ram Prasad Adhikari, 72, a resident.

The Maoist-led government has sacked the three Indian priests, whose predecessors were in charge of worship for more than 300 years at the shrine. The apex court had issued a stay order in response to an appeal by local Bhandari people and civil society members, who demanded that the Indian priests, who have been performing the rituals for the past 300 years in the temple, should be allowed to continue.

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