|Frequency||Every 5 years|
|Attendance||5 million people|
|Area||3–5 km radius around the Gadhimai Temple|
Gadhimai festival is a religious festival held every five years in Nepal at the Gadhimai Temple of Bariyarpur, in Bara District, about 160 kilometres (99 mi) south of the capital Kathmandu, and about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) east of the city of Kalaiya, near the Indo-Nepal border. It is primarily celebrated by Madhesi people. The event involves large-scale sacrificial slaughter of animals, including water buffalo, pigs, goats, chickens, and pigeons, with the goal of pleasing Gadhimai, the goddess of power. People also offer coconuts, sweets, red-coloured clothes, etc. The festival has been described as the world's largest animal sacrifice event or one of the largest.
It is estimated that 250,000 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 sacrifices at the festival.
Millions of people attend the festival, which has existed for more than two centuries. It is said that the festival originated when feudal lord Bhagwan Chaudhary dreamed that he could offer a blood sacrifice to the goddess Gadhimai in order to be freed from jail. Animal sacrifice at the festival attracts people from Nepal and India.
Participants believe that sacrificing animals to the Hindu goddess Gadhimai can end evil and bring prosperity. This has prompted numerous protests by animal rights activists and Nepalese Hindus from Hill region.
In 2009, activists made several attempts to stop the ritual; this included Brigitte Bardot and Maneka Gandhi, who wrote to the Nepalese government, asking it 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 nonviolence and offering a blessing at the place. His promise prompted the government to send additional forces to prevent any incident. A month before the festival, Madheshi politicians realized there would be a "severe shortage" of goats for the ritual sacrifice, as well as for the consumption of mutton 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). Sacrificial animals included white mice, pigeons, roosters, ducks, swine, and male water buffalo. More than 20,000 buffalo 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 two hundred men in a concrete slaughterhouse near the temple. After the festival, the meat, bones, and hides of the animals were sold to companies in India and Nepal.
In October 2014, Gauri Maulekhi (People for Animals Uttarakhand 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 from 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 would be implemented. NG Jayasimha, HSI India representative, visited Nepal to ensure the ban was being adhered to. In an interview with 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". The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs directed the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to monitor and make sure no animals got to Nepal for the festival. It was later reported that 30,000 to 200,000 animals were slaughtered during the 2014 event.
Nepal's temple trust announced the cancellation of all future animal sacrifices at the country's Gadhimai festival in July 2015. The event was also "banned" by HSI India, though this had no legal force.
- "Nepal animal sacrifice festival pits devotees against activists". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
- Power, Gabriel. "What is Gadhimai festival and why is it so controversial?". The Week UK. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- Jolly, Joanna (24 November 2009). "Devotees flock to Nepal animal sacrifice festival". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- "World's 'largest animal sacrifice' begins in defiance of ban". The Independent. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
- Bariyarpur, AFP in (3 December 2019). "World's 'largest animal sacrifice' starts in Nepal after ban ignored". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
- Sharma, Bhadra (6 December 2019). "Nepal's Animal-Sacrifice Festival Slays On. But Activists Are Having an Effect". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- Patel, Atish (2 December 2014). "Smuggling a Sacrifice: Hindu Ritual Animal Slaughter Hit by Border Rules". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
- Ram Chandra, Shah. "Gadhimai Temple Trust Chairman, Mr. Ram Chandra Shah, on the decision to stop holding animal sacrifices during the Gadhimai festival. Later the trust denied the decision, as per trust such decision was obtained forcefully by animal rights activists. Trust said it is not in our hand to stop the sacrifice it is up to people, as trust or priest never ask devotee to offer sacrifice. It is their sole and self decision " (PDF). Humane Society International. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- Meredith, Charlotte (29 July 2015). "Thousands of Animals Have Been Saved in Nepal as Mass Slaughter Is Cancelled". Vice News. Vice Media, Inc. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- KUMAR YADAV, PRAVEEN; TRIPATHI, RITESH (29 July 2015). "Gadhimai Trust dismisses reports on animal sacrifice ban". Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
- "Gadhimai festival begins despite protests in Nepal". The Hindu. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Sarkar, Sudeshna (24 November 2009). "Indians throng Nepal's Gadhimai fair for animal sacrifice". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- Budhathoki, Arun; Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (3 December 2019). "Nepal animal sacrifice festival pits devotees against activists". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- David N. Gellner; Sondra L. Hausner; Chiara Letizia (1 January 2020). Religion, Secularism, and Ethnicity in Contemporary Nepal. Oxford University Press. pp. 166–167. ISBN 978-0-19-099343-6.
- Gurubacharya, Binaj (20 November 2009). "Gadhimai Festival: Nepal Mass Animal Sacrifice Festival To Go Ahead Despite Protests". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "In pictures: Hindu animal sacrifice festival in Nepal". BBC News. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- Shah, Pramada (24 November 2010). "Never Again". The Kathmandu Post. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- "Gadhimai Festival:Why it must never happen Again". Think Differently. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- "Bardot appeal over animal slaughter at Nepal festival". BBC. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Bhanot, Anil (25 November 2009). "The Gadhimai sacrifice is grotesque". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "Sacrifice of 200,000 Animals Proceeds Despite Pleas, Prayers". Environment News Service. 22 November 2009. Archived from the original on 27 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Lamichhane, Upendra (20 November 2009). "Buddha boy fails to turn up at Gadhimai". Republica. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "Nepal hit by severe goat shortage". BBC. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "Over 20,000 buffaloes slaughtered in Gadhimai festival". NepalNews.com. 25 November 2009. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Lang, Olivia (24 November 2009). "Hindu sacrifice of 250,000 animals begins". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
- Xiang, Zhang. "Gadhimai festival begins in central Nepal". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 28 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Sigdel, Chahana (20 November 2014). "India confiscates hundreds of animals at Nepal border ahead of Gadhimai festival". Times of India. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015.
- Gohain, Manash Pratim (13 October 2014). "Gadaimai slaughter: Bihar, UP asked to check animal flow into Bara". Kantipur. Archived from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Gupta, Swati. "Gadhimai festival: Nepal mass animal sacrifice festival begins amid outcry from rights groups". CNN. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- "Gadhimai: Nepal's animal sacrifice festival goes ahead despite 'ban'". BBC News. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
- "Nepal chooses kindness — ENDING the world's largest animal sacrifice event".
- "Animal sacrifice banned during Nepal festival - Times of India".
- AFP (28 July 2015). "Nepal temple bans mass animal slaughter at festival" – via The Guardian.
- "From now on, no more animal sacrifice at Nepal's Gadhimai festival". 28 July 2015. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015.
- "'गढीमाईमा बलि नदिइने निर्णय छैन्". Archived from the original on 31 July 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
- "Mass animal sacrifice begins despite outcry from activists". CNN.
- "Gadhimai: Nepal's animal sacrifice festival goes ahead despite 'ban'". BBC.