How could the gods and goddesses ever be pleased by the sacrifice of innocent animals? This question has been unanswered since the past many years and will remain unanswered, until some strict measures are taken to stop this practice. The centuries-old Hindu festival of animal sacrifice is held once in every five years at the Gadhimai temple in southern Nepal. This temple is named after Gadhimai, the goddess of power and is situated in Bariyapur, in Bara district about 160 km south of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. This event witnesses the world’s largest sacrifice of animals including water buffaloes, pigs, chicken, goats and pigeons.
There is a concrete slaughter house near the temple. The festival starts by a sacrifice, Saptbali, performed by the head priest which includes the sacrifice of white mice, pigeons, roosters, ducks, swine and male water buffaloes. More than 250,000 animals were killed in 2009 in the presence of up to a million of worshippers cheering “Long Live Gadhimai”. People have a notion that their problems are solved within five years if the sacrifices are offered. This idea is shared even by the educated ones. How baseless can anyone’s beliefs be?
A lot of Hindu extremists think that the cattle sacrifice done by the Muslims on Eid-ul-Azha is inhuman. But can they deny the fact that the majority of people participating in the Gadhimai festival are from India? More than 75% visitors are from various parts of India such as Kashi, Patna, Bihar, Sitamadhi, Jharkhand and Samastipur and not to forget Gadhimai is a Hindu goddess.
The goddess is thanked in this way for conferring good luck, prosperity and fortune. Though this reason does not make an iota of sense but it does not matter to people who believe in this ritual.
“The goddess needs blood, if anyone has a problem, then I will cut the throat of an animal in the temple and that person’s problem will be solved.” says Chandan Dev Chaudhury, a priest at the Gadhimai temple in the centre of the festival site.
The people who benefit from this festival are the local hotel and restaurant owners as loads of people from outside the country (mostly Indians) witness the festival. And of course, the bones, meat, hides of dead beasts are not wasted, they are sold to companies of India and Nepal which will earn profits by selling the remains of animals.
Many animal welfare activists have protested before the festival started. The campaign had the support of French actor, Brigitte Bardot who had petitioned the Prime Minister of Nepal, Madhav Kumar Nepal about the issue. But the government kept mum. Maybe because the government itself donated Â£36,500 to the event. India’s noted animal welfare right activist, Maneka Gandhi, too had written a letter to the Nepalese PM asking to stop the sacrifice. Despite of so many protests from round the globe the festival took place and it will continue if the government keeps ignoring it.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.