Nepali Students Protest Religious Appointments
KATHMANDU (AP): University students angry at the government's decision to appoint the head priests at Nepal's most revered Hindu temple blocked traffic and threw bricks at cars in Katmandu on Monday.
The nearly 200 students were demanding the government, led by the country's former communist rebels, withdraw the two priests named last week to lead Pashupatinath temple in Katmandu. No one was hurt in the protest.
The appointments were immediately condemned by other priests, who said the government was interfering in religion and meddling with centuries of tradition. The priests have since refused to take part in religious ceremonies at the temple.
Nepal's king traditionally appointed the country's top priests, but the monarchy was abolished last year and the prime minister became head of state. Since a new constitution has yet to be written, the laws are not clear on who now holds the power to appoint priests.
"We are protesting the government appointing their people to these respected positions and going against traditions," said Pratima Gautam, a student at Monday's protest.
The priests want the power to name temple leaders to rest solely with the clergy.
Pashupatinath temple is a shrine to the Hindu god Shiva and is well known both in India and Nepal. It is visited by millions of pilgrims every year.