In a move that has been hailed worldwide, Nepal finally eliminated animal slaughter from its biggest festival.
Gadhimai festival was a sacrificial ceremony that was held every 5 years at the Gadhimai Temple of Bariyarpur. It’s estimated that 500,000 animals were sacrificed during the Gadhimai festival of 2009, including water buffaloes, pigs, goats, chickens, and pigeons – with the goal of pleasing Gadhimai, the goddess of power.
The festival organizers first considered renouncing animal slaughter last year, and recently, confirmed that decision.
“The Gadhimai Temple Trust hereby declares our formal decision to end animal sacrifice. With your help, we can ensure Gadhimai 2019 is free from bloodshed. Moreover, we can ensure Gadhimai 2019 is a momentous celebration of life … For every life taken, our heart is heavy. The time has come to transform an old tradition.”
Gauri Maulekhi, HSI/India consultant & Trustee, People for Animals who petitioned India’s Supreme Court against the movement of animals from India to Nepal for the Gadhimai festival, on Tuesday said:
“This is a tremendous victory for compassion that will save the lives of countless animals. The HSI/India was heartbroken to witness the bloodshed at Gadhimai, and we have worked hard to help secure this ban on future sacrifice.”
“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. The HSI/India will now spend the next three and a half years till the next Gadhimai educating devotees in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal on the temple trusts’ decision not to sacrifice animals. Animal sacrifice is a highly regressive practice and no nation in the modern world should entertain it.”
For Nepal, it’s a historical decision, but not one that will be met without criticism. The tradition has been going on for three centuries, and its root spread far, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. Sacrificing hundreds of thousands of animals for a goddess of power is probably not the right way to go for progress.
Alexandra is a naturalist who is firmly in love with our planet and the environment. When she's not writing about climate or animal rights, you can usually find her doing field research or reading the latest nutritional studies.