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World's largest ritual animal slaughter goes ahead despite ban World's 'largest animal sacrifice' starts in Nepal after ban ignored
(about 11 hours later)
Thousands of Hindus head to southern Nepal for festival honouring goddess of power Thousands of buffalo will be slaughtered in Hindu festival despite efforts to end tradition
Thousands of Hindus have gathered in southern Nepal before a festival believed to be the world’s largest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. Hindu worshippers have begun killing thousands of buffalo in what is reputed to be the world’s biggest animal sacrifice, held every five years in a remote corner of Nepal, despite efforts to end the bloodshed.
The sacrifices, set to begin on Tuesday, take place every five years in the village of Bariyarpur close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. The Gadhimai festival began in the early hours of Tuesday amid tight security, with the ceremonial slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and a pigeon. A local shaman then offered blood from five points of his body.
An estimated 200,000 animals ranging from goats to rats were killed during the last two-day Gadhimai festival in 2014 and this year’s preparations were well under way by Monday night. About 200 butchers with sharpened swords and knives then walked into a walled arena bigger than a football field, holding several thousand buffalo, as excited pilgrims climbed trees to catch a glimpse.
Buffaloes were corralled into holding pens as worshippers slept and cooked along the road to the temple. “The sacrifices have begun today We had tried not to support it but people have faith in the tradition and have come here with their offerings,” Birendra Prasad Yadav, from the festival organising committee, told AFP.
Among them was Sabu Sahani, 25, who travelled with his family for a day from India’s Bihar with a goat offering. Thousands of worshippers from Nepal and neighbouring India had spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers ahead of the event in Bariyarpur village, close to the Indian border.
“I am happy to be here. The goddess listened to me. We did not have children, but my wife has now given birth to a daughter,” Sahani said. “I believe in the goddess. My mother had asked her for the good health of my son,” one of them, Rajesh Kumar Das, 30, told AFP, holding a goat in his hand.
Unlicensed traders and pilgrims who cross the border between India and Nepal are responsible for supplying most of the animals, with scores seized at crossings by Indian security officials and volunteers. An estimated 200,000 animals ranging from goats to rats were butchered during the last two-day Gadhimai festival in 2014, held in honour of the Hindu goddess of power.
Many were hopeful the centuries-old tradition would end after the temple authorities announced a ban in 2015 and Nepal’s supreme court directed the government to discourage the bloodshed a year later.Many were hopeful the centuries-old tradition would end after the temple authorities announced a ban in 2015 and Nepal’s supreme court directed the government to discourage the bloodshed a year later.
But animal rights activists say that both government agencies and temple committees have failed to implement these rulings. “The officials have let their personal beliefs rule over the court orders. They did not do enough to discourage the slaughters,” animal rights activist Manoj Gautam said. Animal rights activists say government agencies and temple committees have failed to implement these rulings.
Local priest Mangal Chaudhary, the 10th generation of his family to serve at the temple, did not comment on whether the temple supported this year’s mass sacrifice but said that the numbers in attendance were increasing. “We will follow our traditions and perform the rituals in the temple. But what the devotees do outside is their own wish,” he said. Indian border authorities and volunteers have in recent days seized scores of animals being brought across the frontier by unlicensed traders and pilgrims, but this has failed to stop the flow.
According to legend, the first sacrifices in Bariyarpur were conducted several centuries ago when the Hindu goddess Gadhimai appeared to a prisoner in a dream and asked him to establish a temple to her. When he awoke, his shackles had fallen open and he was able to leave the prison and build the temple, where he sacrificed animals in gratitude. According to legend, the first sacrifices in Bariyarpur were conducted several centuries ago when the goddess Gadhimai appeared to a prisoner in a dream and asked him to establish a temple to her.