Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nepal sadhus banned from selling cannabis at temple

By Joanna Jolly

BBC News, Kathmandu
Thousands of sadhus - or holy men - have been banned from selling cannabis to festival-goers at an ancient temple in Nepal.
They are gathering at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to celebrate the Hindu festival of Shivaratri.
Sadhus - Hindus who renounce the world around them - traditionally celebrate Shivaratri by smoking cannabis.
But those found selling drugs at the temple this year will face eviction by armed police, temple officials say.
Since last week police have been mingling with the sadhus in plain clothes to identify anyone selling drugs.
About 20 sadhus have already been arrested and have been moved to an area outside the city, officials say.
"We heard a lot of rumours that sadhus were selling these drugs. We tried to stop them doing this last year, but weren't able to," said Mr Nahata.
"This year we've started a proper campaign."
The PADT has put together a task force of 25 people, including police and armed police officers, to enforce the ban.
"We have only found limited amounts of hashish in cigarettes so far," Mr Nahata said.
He added: "Any sadhus arrested with large quantities of the drug will be sent to jail."

                                     Smoking cannabis
          © Kieron Nelson 2010 "Vanishing Cultures Photography"

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