Nepal bans sale of marijuana at Hindu festival

KATMANDU, Nepal—Nepalese authorities have banned the sale of marijuana during a popular Hindu festival at which holy men traditionally smoke the drug and share it with young men and women, police said Thursday.

About 500,000 devotees attended the festival Wednesday at Katmandu’s Pashupati temple, considered the most revered Hindu shrine in Nepal.

Thousands of holy men travel to Nepal from neighboring India every year for the festival, which generally marks the end of winter. The highlight is a bonfire at night at which devotees smoke marijuana.

“The area was getting to be known for drug use on this day marked as an important religious festival. We are not going to allow any sale of narcotics even if there is a religious connection,” police Chief Santosh Singh Rathore said.

He said police patrolled the area to stop marijuana dealing but did not prevent the holy men from using the drug.

Police detained about 50 people but released them after giving them warnings, Rathore said.

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