Odisha News Insight

Pyres give Pashupati Nath Temple an Eerie Glow

Pyres give Pashupati Nath Temple an Eerie GlowDusk has begun to fall and Thakurnath Nepal, puffing on a beedi, sits opposite a funeral pyre. The pyre makes a crackling sound when he tries to stoke it with a thick wooden stick so that the body is burnt completely.

Nepal, 60, is tired of helping the families at the ghat of the revered Pashupati Nath Temple in Kathmandu. But he is heart-broken too on seeing bodies after bodies coming to this cremation site ever since that black Saturday when a quake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale jolted the Himalayan nation.

“I have been working here for the last 10 years and help with the rites. But never have I seen so many bodies being burnt together. I am old and cannot work much, but I have lost the count of the bodies,” Nepal told, pointing to the pyre he just lit.

The blowing of conches and the tolling of bells at the temple are overpowered by wails and cries of anguish of grieving family members who have lost their loved ones to the devastating earthquake that has claimed over 6,000 lives.

Since the quake, the cremation site beside the temple has seen a record number of bodies being brought in for the last rites. Nepal, who is among the 83 ghat staffers, said that earlier only one or two bodies used to come in a day.
“Now, it has gone up to over 200,” he said.

According to the temple management, till Friday, over 850 bodies have been cremated since April 25 when the tragedy struck. “The maximum number of bodies – 249 – were cremated on April 27, followed by 201 on April 26. Though there is a designated space for 11 bodies to be cremated at a time, I have seen around 60 being cremated at a time. They are being cremated at any dry place which is available at the ghat,” Bishwa Prasad, an information officer at the temple, told.

He said that owing to space crunch, relatives had to wait for over six hours to cremate their loved ones. In fact, he said, there have been fights over who will first conduct the last rites.

“There have also been fights among families over who gets to perform the last rites first. So much so that a family tried to put the body of their relative on a pyre prepared for someone else,” Prasad said.

“We are a staff of 83 people and cannot manage the large crowd which has been pouring in,” he said, adding that the entire staff has been working round-the-clock since the devastating quake, which apart from claiming a large number of lives, caused widespread destruction. Nearly 150,000 houses were destroyed.

Looking morosely at a pyre, Suzan Shreshtha, 18, said many of her relatives have perished. “She was only 35 and was out on work when she got crushed by a crumbling building at Sindhupal Chowk,” Shreshtha told, as final rites were being performed at her relative’s cremation.

While pyres were lit at the ghat, several quake survivors were seen thronging the temple, thanking God for saving them from a calamity. “I have never seen such big mass cremation,” Laxman Pariyar, who was part of a funeral procession, told.

“It has numbed not only the people but the nation too. With one stroke of nature’s fury, so many people died,” said Pariyar, adding he had offered prayers at the temple for his and his family’s safety. (IANS)

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