Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aniamal Sacrifices

At least 15,000 buffalo and "countless" goats and birds were sacrificed in a temple in southern Nepal, organizers said Wednesday, a ritual billed as the single biggest animal slaughter on earth. Hindus in Nepal routinely offer animals for sacrifice to appease deities, especially power goddesses, for good luck and prosperity.

Villagers bringing goats to the slaughter field.

KATHMANDU, Oct 4: Animal welfare campaigners have initiated a coalition with the Indian NGOs and networks of animal rights activists, including Hindu and Buddhist leaders, especially from the Indian state of Bihar, for a joint action to halt animal sacrifices at the the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, Bara district. The festival falls on November 24 this year.

During the festival each year, over 350,000 animals are slaughtered as sacrifice to the deity Gadhimai.

“The Gadhi Mai fair has a cross-border linkage which dates back many years. Since it is participated by Indian people as well, we are initiating a joint-campaign against this barbaric fair,” Pramoda Shah of Animal Nepal, a local NGO, told Republica.

Many Indian nationals travel to attend this festival and offer animal sacrifice.

“It is ironical that such practices have been stopped in India, but in our own Land of Buddha, people are taking to violence in such cold-blooded manner in the name of religion,” Dr Govinda Tandon, a culture expert and former member of the Pashupati Area Development Trust said.

He added, “The festival is baseless too as it started when a priest dreamt of the Goddess asking for sacrifice.”

In the carnival, which is observed every five years, over 350,000 animals, mainly buffalos, piglets, chickens, rats, goats, baby goats, roosters, and pigeons, are to be sacrificed to please the deity Gadhimai.

The first day of the festival, which sees the largest animal sacrifice in the world, is panchbali when five black goats are sacrificed followed by killing of seven buffaloes. But the festival takes a worse turn when some 250 local men, who officiate sacrifices, ruthlessly take to slaughtering of the animals.

“The men are made to consume alcohol before and are let loose to hack the animals in one of the worst form of animal killings,” Shah said, adding, “Superstition is perpetuating violence in Nepal and it is difficult to counteract, especially in bringing about a behavioral change in the educated ones.”

Psychiatrists have long pointed at the health hazard caused to the humans by such unorganized killings and the mental trauma/illness caused by it. Those locals who have been involved in the sacrifice over the years are said to be suffering from acute form of mental disorder.

“One man had to be permanently tied by a rope as he started murdering people. In the people he saw animal images,” Dr Tandon said.

The activists believe that such a cross-border campaign will draw the attention of the international community toward such inhumane treatment meted out to the innocent animals. However, they also feel that the campaign may have an adverse impact on the country´s tourism.

“The festival has invited international criticism and is portraying Nepal in bad light. If activists make an issue of the fair it will have an adverse impact on tourism,” Shah said.

The organizing committee of the carnival has already begun disseminating information about the ´celebrations´. The committee is organizing the event on a hefty budget.

A number of religious groups in Nepal are opposing the mass sacrifice. The campaign will also be joined by the famous ´Buddha boy´ of Nepal, Ram Bahadur Bomjon. “He will be visiting the temple to bless the animals as a symbolic protest,” Lucia de Vries of the Animal Nepal said.

The animal rights activists are also protesting a similar festival in Khokhana, Lalitpur. In one fair in Khokhana, a baby goat is thrown into a pond and some local men tear the goat to death. The one who kills it and comes out victorious is then named a ´hero´.

Source: myrepublic, Nepal

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