Protest after Nepal appoints its own temple priests
Tension is brewing after Maoist government's decision of ending the centuries-old monopoly of South Indian Brahmins by appointing local priests in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple, one of the eight holiest Hindu shrines.
This is a break from nearly 300-year-old tradition which allowed brahmins from India to perform the worship at the famous Pashupatinath by appointing Nepali Bhatta Brahmins, including chief priest Bishnu Prasad Dahal.
The Pashupati Area Development Trust has (PADT) accepted the resignation of chief priest Mahabaleshwor Bhatta, priests Krishna Yoga Bhatta and K.P. Ramachandra Bhatta. It appointed Dahal as the new head priest and priest Shaligram Bhatta of Pashupatinath in their place, according to officials.
Priests at Nepal's most revered Hindu temple said Sunday the government's decision to appoint two head priests was political interference in religion and they vowed to protest.
The Supreme Court has issued a stay order over the new appointments and directed the authorities concerned to let the old priests to carry on their duties. The locals and Rajbhandaris resorted to the protest after the government appointed two Nepali priests by accepting the resignation of the Indian Bhatta Brahmins. Bhatta brahmins, who hail from South India have been officiated at the temple as the priests since the 18th century. Though the SC order has barred the new priests from performing the daily holy rituals, the ruling has not been implemented. On Thursday, Pashupati Area Development Trust—following the order from Culture Minister Gopal Kiranti—broke the lock placed by the protesting Bhandaris at the southern gate of the temple and , escorted the new priests to the temple under the police security and the Young Communist League support.