The number of people visiting Pashupatinath temple on Shivaratri was fewer this year than expected. The Pashupati Area Development Fund had estimated that 800,000 to 1 million visitors will visit the Pashupatinath temple, but only around 400,000 arrived on Shivaratri.

Asha Pandey, a member of the Board of Directors of Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), said that the number of devottes visting the temple had dwindled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said that the number of visitors from outside Kathmandu had decreased this year.

“The number of people coming from India declined significantly,” said Pandey.

PADT had estimated that many visitors would come to see the newly installed golden ‘jalahari’. But Pandey said it had no effect.

The fund had recently placed 108 kg of gold in the temple’s Jyotirlinga. PADT did so despite protests from locals, heritage conservation engineers and temple stewards the Supreme Court’s interim order to stop the process of installing gold jalahari.

Although it was said that adherence to health safety standards was made mandatory during the visit, it did not seem so. Many visitors were seen without masks and physical distancing were not observed.

This year, Sadhus’ arrival was also much lower than last year.

The Guthi Sansthan has been making all the arrangements including food and lodging for the Sadhus who come to Pashupatinath temple on Shivaratri.

Apart from Nepal, the Shivaratri festival is celebrated especially in Hindu-majority countries including India, Indonesia, Fiji and Mauritius.