Atonement worship is offered at the Pashupatinath Temple today morning, seeking forgiveness as the shrine had to be shut to the devotees for nine months corresponding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry of devotees inside the temple, which had continued on a regular basis since ancient time, was prohibited during the pandemic owing to the risk of the transmission.

“Adhering to the health safety protocols, devotees will be allowed to offer prayers inside the temple from tomorrow,” said Dr Pradip Dhakal, member-secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT).

Visitors will have to compulsorily wear the face mask. Although the temple would open from Wednesday, the special puja, singing of hymns and ritual activities, however, would not start immediately.

“We were compelled to restrict ourselves during the crisis of the pandemic. We will gradually start operating the special puja, singing of hymns and other rituals that have been suspended by adopting health safety procedures after the temple’s opening on Wednesday,” he said.

Several religious organisations had been carrying out symbolic protest at the Pashupati area under the leadership of the World Hindu Federation, saying the devotees have not been able to visit the temple for worship as it remained closed for nine months.

PADT stated that special security alertness is to be adopted in the Pashupati area as the temple is opening after long amidst the existing risk of coronavirus infection. A meeting attended by all the security bodies was organized in this connection, said PADT treasurer Dr Milan Kumar Thapa.

The PADT has suffered losses around Rs 700 million due to this, PADT executive director Dr Ghanashyam Khatiwada said.

However, offering of regular prayer and worship, food offerings and the crematorium services were continued during the period.