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AGONY OF MILLIONS, KILLED FOR RELIGION Fields weep with the blood of endless slit throats — where a quarter million buffalo, pigs, goats and more animals lay mutilated. The crowd wields dull knives, old swords. Babies cry near beheaded mothers…
This is the Gadhimai Festival, the biggest of Nepal’s many blood rituals, to honor the Hindu goddess of power. Apparently Gadhimai requires deliberate torture before she’ll grant the wishes of her human disciples. The two-day homage occurs in the village of Bariyapur in the Bara District. In 2009, five million people were present.
Blood rituals occur routinely in Nepal. Animals are skinned and burned alive, smashed and shredded. The Gadhimai repeats every 5 years, next up in 2014. Voices worldwide hope to shut it down, along with all live sacrifice in Nepal.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Ask Nepal’s government to enact an Animal Welfare Law that shields animals from all forms of abuse, including ritual sacrifice. Urge officials to ban blood festivals nationwide. Animal sacrifice belongs with human sacrifice, honor killings…buried, done, illegal. Torture to uphold religious tradition has no place in the 21st century.
Honorable Prime Minister and Officials of Nepal,
Honorable Prime Minister and Officials of Nepal.
Please ban blood festivals nationwide. I urge the Nepalese government to enact and enforce an Animal Welfare Law that shields animals from all forms of abuse, including ritual sacrifice.
At the semi-annual Gadhimai Jatra festival in Bara, fields fill with blood. Hundreds of thousands of goats, buffalo, pigs, chickens, rats and pigeons are mutilated as "sacrifice" to the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai. During the event, competitors armed with knives earn a fee for each kill. They slit the throats of five different species as tribute to "panchhbali" (five offerings). Death does not come quickly. Buffalo take so long to die that men slice them apart, starting with their back legs.
Brutal animal sacrifice does not end with the Gadimai. Government subsidized blood ritual occurs routinely at Goddess temples. At recurring "celebrations," animals are skinned and burned alive, cut with dull knives, beheaded... A live goat is dismembered at the Khokana Festival. Taleju Temple priests annually kill water buffalo during Kalratri, Dasain. The army sacrifices 108 buffalo in the Kot courtyard the next morning. For the Sasarimaiko Mela in Mahottari, another 10,000 animals suffer under the banner of "religious tradition."
While Nepal has rightfully banned human sacrifice and widow burning, it seems frozen in time with regard to animals. Religious leaders themselves have proposed fruits and vegetables in place of animal offerings. A more tourist-friendly version could use red objects such as cloth, flowers, fruit, banners, candles, flags...to symbolize live offerings. In a bloodless Gadhimai, for example, worshippers walk miles to reach a temple adorned in red emblems of their faith.
I respectfully ask you to embrace nonviolent options and permanently ban blood rituals that hurt both animals and Nepal itself:
** Violence and cruelty alienate tourists and reduce profits from Nepal's valuable tourism industry.
** Brutalizing animals desensitizes the people of Nepal, particularly children, to the suffering of others. Animal abuse is a well-documented precursor to violence against humans.
** Animals are tormented at every stage from transport and pre-ritual food/water deprivation to slow, painful death thought to please the goddess. Ceremonies feature animals skinned alive and even shredded by human teeth. The torture is so extraordinary, some animals die from shock before their wounds overtake them.
** Blood rituals have no place in the 21st century. In fact, they conflict with Nepal’s own legal progress to protect "flora and fauna" under international wildlife treaties and regulate humane slaughter of farmed animals via introduction of the Meat Act.
Religion, tradition, entertainment and art never justify outright torture.