KATHMANDU: Pashupati Area Development Trust said it collected Rs 540,879 in offerings made by devotees visiting Pashupatinath temple on the day of Mahashivaratri.
An estimated 700,000 devotees visited the temple on the day to offer prayers at the temple. PADT officials said the monetary offerings were collected from Pashupatinath temple, Basuki temple, Hanuman temple, Nawagraha and other temples in the Pashupatinath temple complex during Mahashivaratri and the following day.
As per the recent amendment to Pashupati Development Trust Act, monetary offerings, donations, gifts and amounts raised during regular or special pujas in Pashupatinath should be made public.
PADT has also set up digital boards outside the temple to make public monetary offerings made at the temple. It, however, did not display the total amount collected in offerings during Mahashivaratri and the following day, stating that it had not counted the money.
However, a PADT source said counting of money had started the same day and almost 60 per cent of the amount had been counted by the evening of Mahashivaratri.
The money offered at the temple is counted in the presence of representatives from the cultural preservation division at PADT, accounts section at PADT and Nepal Police.
The amount of money collected, however, appears surprisingly low compared to number of devotees visiting the temple during the festival. This leaves ample ground for suspicion of irregularities.
An administrative officer at PADT, however, said that unlike what people thought, many devotees did not make monetary offerings.”
During festivals like Mahashivaratri and Teej, visitors are not allowed to stand for more than a minute at the temple’s gate. So, many people do not get the time to make monetary offerings,” he said.
PADT has also not made public the number of devotees visiting the temple during the festival. The office made different arrangements maintain a record of the number of devotees. Apart from volunteers deployed for the purpose, PADT had also set up digital gates at the entrance of the temple to maintain an accurate record of visitors.
Milan Kumar Thapa, treasurer at PADT, said the final report on the festival would be made public relatively late this year.
According to PADT officials, the first review meeting of the festival is unlikely to be held until March-end as high-ranking officials like Member Secretary Pradeep Dhakal and Executive Director Ramesh Upreti are on leave.
– By Ujjwal Satyal, TKP