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Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal to replace South Indian Priests with Nepali Priests

The pujas and rituals in the world famous Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal used to be performed by South Indian Priests. But now they have been replaced by Nepali priests. Believed to have been built in the 3rd century BC, Pashupatinath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is the biggest icon in Nepal and is visited by millions of people.

Hindu priests from India performed the pujas and rituals in Pashupatinath Temple due to a custom started in 1747 during monarchy in Nepal. It was believed that the death of the king, the father of the nation, all Nepalis had to observe a period of mourning which made them unfit to perform pujas and rituals due to Shraddh.

Now the king is no longer the ruler of Nepal and the country has become a secular country. So the old custom has no value.

Times of India reports

The new government that came to power after the pro-democracy movement ousted the king and queen from the temple management.

Soon after that, the Satnamis, a sect that worship Hindu god Vishnu, began a movement to scrap the old tradition of employing Indian priests.

Finally, heeding the growing demand, the three Indian priests handed over their resignations on December 29, 2008.

Mahabaleshwar Bhatt, the main priest and custodian of the deity, and his aides P. Ram Chandra and Krishna Yog Bhatt's resignations have been accepted and two Nepali priests appointed in their place.

Bishnu Prasad Dahal, a PhD in Sanskrit from Nuwakot district, and Shalik Ram Dhakal, also a Sanskrit scholar from Sindhupalchowk, became the first Nepali priests who will shoulder the responsibility of worshipping the deity from next month.

Update: Sacked Indian priests were temporarily reinstated after week-long protests by Hindus.