Time of prayer and devotion

The Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal, was crowded with devotees yesterday as they came to offer prayers at the Pashupatinath Temple as part of the annual Swasthani Brata Katha festival.

During the month-long festival, devotees recite one chapter daily from the sacred Swasthani Brata Katha book.

The book has 31 chapters, which describe the miraculous feats performed by the god Madhavnarayan, goddess Swasthani, and various other gods and goddesses.

Unmarried Hindu women fast for a month in the hope that they will find a good husband.

The ritual is also observed by married women, who pray for their family's welfare, and by some men.

Devotees also go on pilgrimages to various other temples to take a dip in the rivers, braving the cold Himalayan winter conditions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Time of prayer and devotion'. Print Edition | Subscribe