On Monday, in an act of compassion and progress, Nepal moved to ban the largest animal sacrifice ritual in the world. The Gadhimai festival, a 400-year-old tradition occurs every five years to honour Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. Hundreds of thousands of animals are killed in each ceremony, which has inspired animal rights activists to protest the festival in the past.
The groundbreaking decision to end the ritual sacrifice was reached after lengthy negotiations between the Gadhimai Temple Trust, Animal Network Nepal, and Humane Society International/India.
Humane Society International/India explained the festival, which attracts 2.5 million Hindi visitors every year and occurs in the Nepalese town of Bariyarpur, near the Indian border: The Festival is held in Nepal every five years and involves the barbaric ritual sacrifice of 500,000 animals including water buffalo, sheep, pigs, rats, pigeons and chickens over a two day period. The animals are killed in front of each other, using blunt knives and swords to cut their throats
In spite of the temple’s past gruesome practices, an official statement from its committee this week said,
“We, the members of the Gadhimai temple committee of Bariyarpur, Nepal, after considerable deliberations and discussions have resolved to actively abolish all future animal sacrifices at the Gadhimai temple on all occasions.”
The Gadhimai temple committee also vowed to campaign against animal sacrifice. Humane Society International/India celebrated the unprecedented move:
Gauri Maulekhi, an HSI/India trustee and consultant, previously petitioned the Indian Supreme Court to ban animal trafficking, which saw masses of animals — up to 70% of those sacrificed during the Gadhimai festival — imported into Nepal from India and other countries.
“We commend the temple committee but acknowledge that a huge task lies ahead of us in educating the public so that they are fully aware…Animal sacrifice is a highly regressive practice and no nation in the modern world should entertain it.”
The Supreme Court of India sided with the animals in October of last year, creating a measurable impact. According to HSI, the decision led to over 100 arrests and saved 2,500 animals.
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