Indian ban to hit Pashupatinath’s festival in NepalBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Sunday, February 20, 2011
KATHMANDU - When devotees celebrate the night of Lord Pashupatinath, the Hindu god who is both the destroyer and saviour of the world, the rituals are going to be sorely hit, thanks to a ban by neighbouring India on the export of powdered milk.
Washing the deity at the hallowed Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu with milk and offering sweets made of milk as well as milk is an integral part of the Maha Shivratri festival March 2 and thousands of visitors, including wandering holy men from India, are expected at the 7th century shrine.
Nepals dairy authorities have expressed dismay at the decision by the Indian government to stop the export of powdered milk following a sharp rise domestically both in demand and price. The ban includes skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, dairy whitener as well as childrens milk-based food products.
During the dry seasons of winter and summer, when milk production decreases in Nepal, the republic banks heavily on powdered milk from India, including the state-run Dairy Development Corporation (DDC).
Around 5,000 metric ton of powdered milk is imported from India annually, according to DDC estimates.
The ban is said to have become effective from mid-February and will continue till further notice.
This is going to create problems in the production and supply of milk in Nepal during the dry season, DDC chief Krishna Gopal Shrestha told the Arthik Abhiyan financial daily Sunday.
Kathmandu valley alone requires around 600,000 litre of milk daily of which DDC manages to provide 140,000 litre.
The rest of the requirement is met by private dairies and farmers who sell their product directly to households.
The government is building a new dairy in Chitwan in southern Nepal and once Chitwan Milk Ltd starts production, Nepal can increase its milk yield by over 5,000 ton annually.
Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev has also offered to provide Nepal with 50,000 cows and 2,000 bulls to improve milk produce and help agriculture.
However, the promised animals are yet to arrive in Nepal due to cross-border bureaucratic hurdles.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)