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World’s ‘largest animal sacrifice’ festival starts in Nepal

Despite efforts to end tradition, a devotee prepares a buffalo for slaughter as an offering during the Gadhimai festival
Despite efforts to end tradition, a devotee prepares a buffalo for slaughter as an offering during the Gadhimai festival

Worshippers in Nepal have begun killing thousands of buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival. The festival is reputed to be the world’s biggest animal sacrifice which held every five years in a remote corner of Nepal. Animal rights activists are making sincere efforts to end the bloodshed

Amid tight security, the festival began in the early hours of Tuesday with ceremonial slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and a pigeon. After this, a local shaman offered blood from five points of his body.

Then around 200 butchers with sharpened swords and knives walk towards a walled arena bigger than a football field. Several thousands of buffalo were ready to get slaughtered and the excited pilgrims climbed trees to catch a glimpse.

Birendra Prasad Yadav from the festival organising committee said that “The sacrifices have begun today,” Along with this he mentions that “we had tried not to support it but people have faith in the tradition.”

Thousands of worshippers from Bariyarpur village had spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers ahead of the event.

One of the devotee Rajesh Kumar Das, 30, said that “I believe in the goddess. My mother had asked her for the good health of my son.” He was holding a goat in his hand for offering.

The festival held in honour of goddess of power. According to an estimate, in 2014, around 200,000 animals ranging from goats to rats were butchered during the last two-day of the festival.  

In 2015, temple authorities announced a ban on the tradition resulted in raising hopes that the centuries-old tradition would end. A year later, Supreme Court of Nepal also directed the government to discourage the bloodshed.

Animal rights activists said that the government agencies and temple committees failed to implement these rulings.

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