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Revered Nepal temple in financial transparency move

By Joanna Jolly, BBC News: One of the most revered Hindu sites in South Asia, Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, has started paying its priests fixed salaries.

The move is part of an effort to make its finances more transparent and part of an ongoing push to modernise the ancient temple.

The 5th Century building – on the banks of the Bagmati river – attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims each year.

As part of their offerings to the gods, many give generous donations of cash.

However, the amount the temple makes has traditionally been kept a secret.

But now, the temple authorities say that all donations will be declared, and that the Indian priests that work there will be given a fixed salary of around $3,000 (£1,890) a month.

This declaration follows a push by the government to make the management of the temple more transparent.

Culture Minister Gopal Kirati said the declaration of donations will help the overall development of the temple, which badly needs restoration work.

The running of Pashupatinath Temple is a controversial issue in Nepal.

In 2008, the Maoist government tried to halt the temple’s tradition of hiring Indian priests to oversee rituals – a move that was condemned by Hindu worshippers and the Indian government.

Over the past few years, there have been attempts to force the temple to open its vaults, which are believed to hold thousands of dollars worth of treasure.

The latest move to bring the temple’s finances into the public domain is seen as a positive step towards modernising this ancient institution.

Published Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 | 05:13 AM

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