Animals are sacrificed as part of the Hindu festival, with the hope that the sacrifice will lead to the fulfillment of wishes by the goddess. It is estimated that more than 250,000 animals were killed during the period of sacrifice in 2009 while 5 million people visited Gadhimai during the festival.This centuries-old tradition is observed every five years in Gadhimai premises located in the village of Bariyapur of Bara District of Nepal near the border with India.Male domestic Asian water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis)(locally called "PaaDa") are the preferred species to offer to the goddess. Several other species including male goats(Khasi), chickens(Murgha), Pigeons(Parewa), Ducks(Batakh) and some rats(Moos), are also killed.
Dear Prime Minister,
We would like to express our deep concern about extreme cases of animal cruelty being conducted in the name of religion in Nepal.
In Nepal animal sacrifice is widely practiced. There are no rules to regulate sacrifice, instead the government supports blood sacrifices by providing subsidies.
Apart from regular sacrifice at Goddess temples extreme cruelty is conducted at certain festivals including the live skinning and burning of animals, slow killings through throat slitting, killing with unsharp knives, public beheadings, et cetera.
Well know is the annual sacrifice taking place during Kalratri, Dasain, when the priests of Taleju Temple kill waterbuffaloes throughout the night, followed by the sacrifice of 108 buffaloes by the army in the Kot courtyard during the next day.
Another is the Khokana Festival, held in August, during which a terrified goat is thrown in the Deu-pond close to the Rudrayani temple, after which it is torn apart whilst still alive by a group of young men.
Another is the Gadimai Festival in Bara District which is 'celebrated' by sacrificing around 200,000 animals. Here innocent creatures are killed en masse in an unorganised manner by devotees which includes the public beheading of 20,000 buffaloes.
A similarly touching event is the Sasarimaiko Mela in Mahottari which is held every twelve years and witnesses the killing of at least 10,000 animals.
No one can adequately explain why these practices are carried out year after year %u2013 except to say they are %u2018traditional%u2019. This however is not a valuable argument to commence these practices; Nepal, realizing the adverse effects, has abolished a number of %u2018traditions%u2019 in the past, including human sacrifice and widow burning.
We encourage you to abolish the above practices for the following reasons:
1.It hurts them %u2013 Contrary what many belief, animals suffer tremendously before and during sacrifice. They are generally hurt during transportation, starved and dehydrated, and often purposely killed slowly and painfully, as it is believed that the goddess prefers slow deaths. In certain rituals animals are skinned alive, torn apart by human teeth or tortured to such an extent they die from stress and shock.
2.It hurts us - Cruelty against animals harms society as a whole; it signals and normalizes insensitivity in children who can become numb to the suffering of living beings, it is also known to influence certain people to commit violence on other humans.
3.It strengthens vested interests %u2013 Sacrifices generally boosts the interests of those who benefit from superstition-based beliefs and rituals. As Nepal is moving ahead to become a more fully democratic, egalitarian society, it is crucial to challenge age-old beliefs which are not beneficial and drain the resources of the poor and needy.
4.It contradicts the spirit of laws - Nepal is concerned about the welfare of its precious flora and fauna, and has signed a number of international Wildlife Treaties followed by the introduction of the Meat Act, which introduces humane killing of livestock and poultry. The cruelty displayed in these so-called traditions completely contradicts the spirit and gestures of these treaties and acts.
5.It is bad for tourism - As tourists are abhorred by such practices, the festivals will have an adverse effect on tourism, an industry which provides the country with much-needed financial returns. Those foreigners who experience or come to know the extent of sacrifice in this country leave Nepal confused and with a heavy heart, rather than uplifted by its paradoxical beauty and friendliness.
We urge you to end the violent practices and help Nepal move towards a truly peaceful country, and in keeping with its international image. This can be done by introducing and enforcing a much-needed Animal Welfare Act to curb animal cruelty and by promoting genuine animal welfare activities across the country.
We trust that you will support these measures (which are becoming more popular by the day, around the globe and thus promote non-violent cultural practices Nepal.
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