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Adolescent pregnancy rates high in Shuklaphatna

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KANCHANPUR — Teenage pregnancy, also known as adolescent pregnancy rates are on the rise in Shuklaphanta Municipality of Kanchanpur as early marriage continues to take place here.

The rate of teenage pregnancy is on the increasing graph as majority of girls here get married early (before 20 years) due to lack of awareness about its disadvantages. Likewise, poverty is another factor promoting early marriage in the municipality.

In a period of past 10 months, among expectant mothers visiting the Pipladi health post, 27 were from the 16-19 years of age group. Health post chief Dilip Singh Saud said only 30 pregnant above 20 underwent safe delivery in the period.

In the corresponding period last year, 26 adolescents delivered their babies in the health post. The case of Jhalari Health Post is not different, as 23 pregnant who arrived here, seeking health check-up were below 20. Most of the teenage mothers are from the ethnic and Dalit communities.

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Uterine-prolapse, birth of an underweight child and other reproductive health-related problems are common in cases of teenage pregnancies.

“A woman who is impregnated underage is likely to give birth to an underweight baby. Such mothers are advised to provide kangaroo mother care for their newborn babies to save them from possible pneumonia and malnutrition, as such babies will have low immune system,” he said.

Most of adolescent pregnant women visiting the health section of the Municipality have been found to be suffering from malnutrition, said Section chief Tirtha Raj Bhatta.

The legal marriage age for girls is above 20, and underage marriage will subject parents to three years in prison.

Approximately 30 percent child marriage is estimated to have taken place in Kanchanpur alone (30 percent girl child marriage, and 10 percent boy child marriage).

Nepal is placed in the third position in child marriage beyond Bangladesh in the first and India in the second in the South Asia.

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Indian tourists make up the bulk number of visitors to Muktinath

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BAGLUNG — Indian tourists make up the bulk portion of the visitors arriving in Mustang’s famed pilgrimage site of Muktinath.

A high number of Indians come to Nepal to take a tour of Muktinath with belief that paying homage at the temple fulfills one’s wishes. It is widely believed that worshipping the Muktinath liberates one’s soul from the circle of life and death.

From January this year to the end of April, 8,556 Indian tourists have arrived in Muktinath. The number is more than half the total number of visitors to Muktinath in the period. In the last five months 16,984 foreign tourists have visited Muktinath.

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According to data provided by Jomsom – based Information Centre of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), 9,105 foreigners visited Muktinath in April month alone among which Indian tourists were counted at 4,537. ACAP’s data shows that the number of Indian tourists visiting Muktinath temple has been increasing every year.

In 2017, Indian tourists entering Muktinath were counted at 24,888. In 2015, when Nepal was struck by a massive earthquake, only 8,459 Indian tourists visited Muktinath.

ACAP Office Chief, Tulasi Prasad Dahal, said Indian tourists’ number is only second to the number of Nepal’s domestic tourists visiting Muktinath. Dahal added that majority of the Indian tourists come for pilgrimage to the famed temple. “Hundreds of Indians enter Mustang during the tourist season,” he added.

Muktinath’s hotel entrepreneur, Suraj Gurung, says the tourists mainly visit the Muktinath during two prime seasons of the year. Tourists mainly flock the temple site during the period between mid September to mid November and from mid April to mid June. On other occasions, visitors to the temple are not as high as during the prime seasons.

Muktinath is located along one of the most famous trek routes in the world, the ‘Annapurna Circuit’. Trekkers heading towards the Thorang La Pass also go through the temple’s vicinity and often they visit to pay homage at one of the most secluded temple sites.

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The temple is not just for Hindu pilgrims but for Buddhist pilgrims as well. It is one of many examples of temples that reflect the blend of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal.

Hindus view Muktinath as the ‘Muktichetra’ or ‘the region of liberation’ while Buddhists call it ‘Chuming Gyasta’ meaning ‘100 waters’ in Tibetan language. Muktinath, which is also famous as ‘Shaligram God’, is located at an altitude of 3,800 metres above sea level.

The holy Shaligram, a fossilized shell only found in the Kaligandaki river that flows through the Mukti region, is regarded as an incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu.

Temple’s Priest, Krishna Prasad Subedi, said many come to the temple with wishes while many others come with belief of liberating their ancestors.

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