Puja and Aarti at Pashupatinath continues while reinstallation of uprooted ‘Jalari’ is pending

Kathmandu, 26 June: The regular Puja and Aarti at Pashupatinath will continue as usual, pending reinstallation of the golden ‘Jalari’ which was uprooted on Sunday at the orders of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

The CIAA began investigation into alleged corruption at the time of placing new Jalari during K P Oli’s last tenure as the Prime Minister two years ago.

Pashupatinath temple sources said the old Jalari made of silver is still in place around the statue of lord Shiva and removal of the new one yesterday will not hamper the regular puja and Aarti.

“It may take couple of more days for the ‘Laha’ (glue) required to fix the gold Jalari atop the old one”, sources said.

The CIAA yesterday ordered removal of the gold Jalari weighing around 107 kg from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple following complaints that a large amount of money was embezzled while offering it two years ago at the order of Prime Minister Oli who was also the ex-officio patron of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT).

The government and the PADT had together released Rs 80 crore from their coffer to buy around 96 KG of gold from the Nepal Rashtra Bank for the new Jalari, but subsequent complaints received by the CIAA alleged that some other metals, mostly silver and copper had also been bought which were fraudulently shown as ‘gold’.

Narottam Baidhya, a former treasurer of the PADT said replacing the silver Jalari by gold in violation of a long tradition of worship, and spending huge funds from the coffer of a ‘secular state’ in itself violated the letter and spirit of the constitution.

Oli, apparently to attract the ‘Hindu voters’ had taken the initiative for placing the gold Jalari who also went to the temple when it was placed. A day later, President Bidhya Devi Bhnadari had gone to the temple to mark the formal inauguration of the new Jalari slightly before the Mahashivaratri festival, two years ago.

The CIAA team that invited representatives of the gold and silver trade body to ascertain the quantity and quality of the materials used has decided not to make any formal statement till the investigation is complete.

In the meantime, what has also come to the light is that names of about 13 people including the then President and the Prime Minister along with that of some controversial businessmen have been inscribed in the Jalari recognising their contribution to this offer.