Nepal: mass slaughter of animals begins despite outcry

BARIYARPUR, Nepal: Newly sacrificed buffaloes lie on the ground in an enclosure during the Gadhimai festival yesterday. – AFP

BARIYARPUR, Nepal: The stench of raw meat hung in the air and puddles of blood strewn across the muddy ground yesterday as what believed to be the world’s largest animal sacrifice kicked into action in a remote region of Nepal. Efforts by activists and officials were to reduce the death toll among the 200,000 massacred at the last Gadhimai festival five years ago, but thousands of creatures were still to be killed in the two days.

The event in honor of a Hindu goddess began in the early hours of the morning under strict security, with the ceremonial slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and d ‘a pigeon. A local shaman then donated blood from five points on his body. Some 200 butchers armed with swords and sharp knives then entered a fortified arena larger than a football field that contained several thousand buffaloes as excited pilgrims climbed trees and walls to glimpse.

“We tried not to support him but people have faith in the tradition and have come here with their offerings,” Birendra Prasad Yadav of the festival’s organizing committee told AFP. Thousands of goats were also intended for sacrifice – mostly by having their throats slit – along with pigs and even rats. Pilgrims could either take the leftovers for cooking or leave them with the organizers to bury them.

Thousands of worshipers from Nepal and neighboring India spent days sleeping outside and praying before the event in the village of Bariyarpur, near the Indian border. “I believe in the goddess. My mother asked her about my son’s health, “one of them, Rajesh Kumar Das, 30, who held a goat in his hand, told AFP. Some 2,000 police officers were patrolling the village and the village. field where sacrifices took place to control the crowds gathered to watch.

According to legend, the first sacrifices in Bariyarpur took place several centuries ago when the goddess Gadhimai appeared to a prisoner in a dream and told him to offer blood and establish his temple. When he woke up, his chains had come off and he was able to leave the prison and build the temple, where he sacrificed animals to give thanks, according to legend.

“Less bloodshed”
In recent days, Indian border officials and volunteers have seized dozens of animals brought across the border by unlicensed traders and pilgrims. While this has failed to stop the flow, officials and animal rights groups say these efforts combined with awareness campaigns have helped reduce the bloodshed. “The temple committee seems to be shaken by the countryside as well as by the government. The number of animals sacrificed is gradually decreasing, ”said Amruta Ubale of Animal Equality India.

Local officials have also implemented programs to educate the public against sacrifice and have asked worshipers to donate money instead of animals, district official Phanindra Mani Pokharel said. Many hoped the centuries-old tradition would end after temple authorities announced a ban in 2015 and the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the government to discourage bloodshed a year later.

But animal rights activists say government agencies as well as temple committees have failed to implement the decisions. “Now is the time for the Nepalese government to step up and introduce a legal ban on animal sacrifices so that this is the last time we see such horrors in Gadhimai,” said Tanuja Basnet, director of the Nepal’s Humane Society International. Among the bleating goats in the temple area were worshipers who chose not to kill any animals but to free pigeons, such as 20-year-old Rabindra Kumar Yadav, who came to thank the goddess for her health. “We didn’t sacrifice an animal, instead we worshiped the goddess with a pair of pigeons,” he said, before the lucky birds flew to safety. – AFP

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