Animals at Gadhimai festival
|Frequency||every 5 years|
|Attendance||5 million people|
|Area||3-5 km radius around the Gadhimai Temple|
Gadhimai festival is a sacrificial ceremony held every 5 years at the Gadhimai Temple of Bariyarpur, in Bara District, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the capital Kathmandu, and about 4.35 miles (7.00 km) east of headquarter of Bara district kalaiya city, in the southern Nepal, near the Indo-Nepal border, adjacent to Bihar. It is primarily celebrated by the Madheshi and Bihari people. The event involves the large-scale sacrificial slaughter of animals including water buffaloes, pigs, goats, chickens, and pigeons – with the goal of pleasing Gadhimai, the goddess of power. People also offer coconuts, sweets, red colour clothes, etc.
It is estimated that 50,000 animals were sacrificed during the Gadhimai festival of 2009. In 2015, it was erroneously reported that Nepal's temple trust planned to cancel all future animal sacrifice at the festival. Despite the ban, the festival took place in 2019. The amount of animals sacrificed was reduced. People have started donating blood instead of sacrificing.
A month before the ritual in 2009, the Madheshi politicians realized there would be a "severe shortage" of goats for the ritual sacrifice, as well as for the consumption of goat meat during the festival. They began a radio campaign urging farmers to sell their animals.
The festival started in the first week of November 2009 and ended in the first week of December (up to makar sankranti), the fair has a custom of animal sacrifice that occurred on November 24 and 25 in the year 2009, with the temple's head priest performing ritual sacrifice called Saptabali, which includes the sacrifice of white mice, pigeons, roosters, ducks, swine and male water buffaloes. More than 20,000 buffaloes were sacrificed on the first day. It is estimated that 250,000 animals were sacrificed during the Gadhimai festival of 2009. The ritual killings were performed by more than 200 men in a concrete slaughterhouse near the temple.
The festival has prompted numerous protests by animal rights activists and Nepalese Hindus from Hill region. In 2009, activists made several attempts to stop the ritual, including Brigitte Bardot and Maneka Gandhi, who wrote to the Nepalese government asking them to stop the killings. A government official commented that they would not "interfere in the centuries-old tradition of the Madheshi people."
Ram Bahadur Bomjon, claimed by some of his supporters to be the reincarnation of the Buddha, said that he would attempt to stop the sacrifice at the festival, preaching non-violence and offering a blessing at the place. His promise prompted the government to send additional forces to prevent any incident.
After the festival, the meat, bones and hides of the animals are sold to companies in India and Nepal.
In October 2014, Gauri Maulekhi (People for Animals Uttarakhand (PFA) trustee and Humane Society International (HSI) consultant) filed a petition against the illegal transportation of animals from India to Nepal for slaughter. After this, the Supreme Court of India passed an interim order directing the Government of India to prevent animals being illegally transported across the border for sacrifice at Gadhimai. The court also asked animal protection groups and others to devise an action plan to ensure the court order is implemented.
NG Jayasimha, HSI India's MD, visited Nepal to ensure the ban is being adhered to. In an interview to the Times of India he said, "I am very pleased that we were able to sit down with the Nepali politicians, to speak up for the hundreds of thousands of innocent animals who are condemned to an utterly unjustified beheading at Gadhimai. We also spoke directly to the Gadhimai temple and the local magistrate, so they can be in no doubt of the overwhelming call for compassion. We sincerely hope that they will act to stop this unnecessary bloodshed".
Termination of the festival
|Wikinews has related news: Ritual sacrifice in Nepal sees 320,000 animals slaughtered to Hindu goddess|
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