Pashupati sees smart sadhus this MahashivaratriThe ash-smeared ascetics see smartphones and internet as an essential part of their life these days.
Many sadhus visiting the Pashupatinath temple for the Mahashivaratri festival this year were seen with smartphones on their hands. Some were taking photos (selfies even), some shouting directions amid noise and confusion and others listening to music.
As ironic as it may sound, these ash-painted, non-materialistic Shaivite ascetics see smartphones and internet as an essential part of their life these days.
“Cellphone has become a very good means to connect with other sadhus of our sect and our bhaktas (disciples),” said Baba Yogi Niranjan Nath. His face and body smeared with ash, the smartphone on his hand looked out of place. “I even use WhatsApp to connect with my people,” he added proudly.
Yogi Rawinath, a sadhu camped at Ram Mandir, was miffed at the festival organiser for not organising free Wi-Fi service.
“I have been posting pictures on my Facebook using mobile data, which is very costly,” said the 40-year-old Rawinath.
While the sadhus belonging to the Naga sect camped inside the main temple complex were prohibited from carrying phones, outside the temple, there was no shortage of tech-savvy Hindu holy men, an observation made by many visitors.
Biraj Subedi, who had brought two French tourists to show them the Mahashivaratri festival, said they were surprised at seeing so many sadhus using smartphones.
“We saw many babas holding smartphones. This was quite a surprise not just for my foreigner friends but to me as well,” said Subedi.
Not far away from where Rawinath was sitting with his fellow sadhus at Ram Mandir sat a group of ascetics in a circle, smoking marijuana chillums.
Like many other sadhus visiting the Pashupati temple for the Mahashivaratri, they also wished for a free Wi-Fi facility. With no internet, they are enjoying music blaring out of a Bluetooth speaker.
The announcement of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to provide free Wi-Fi service in the Pashupati area two years ago has not materialised yet.
Until the city authority starts free Wi-Fi service, sadhus like Yogi Rawinath will have to rely on expensive mobile data to stay connected with their friends and followers.
“I wanted to live stream the festival for my Facebook friends,” said Rawinath with a hint of mild frustration in his voice.