Both faith communities have long shared this sacred city. But some Hindus have taken legal action over a mosque they claim holds idols of Hindu deities.
The priestesses are part of a feminist push to make Hinduism more inclusive. Some have begun officiating at Indian weddings stripped of patriarchal traditions: No more "donating" brides to in-laws.
The holiday, which marks the new year, is observed over five days in various ways, from decorating with lights, praying at the temple and feasts with loved ones. Much of that is different this year.
The 1992 destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu extremists sparked riots that killed thousands of Muslims, leaving a deep rift between the country's religious communities.
No women ages 10 to 50 have been able to reach the temple since the ruling in September. "I'll block younger women with my own body if I have to," says a woman who waited until age 53 to visit.
For 10 days, they sing, dance, chant and pray at the feet of Ganesh statues, then submerge them in water. The festival was once used to circumvent British rule.
The festival of Dashain brings thousands of goats to Kathmandu — for dinner, sacrificed to honor a Hindu goddess. Despite current unrest and post-earthquake trauma, the holiday will go on.