More than 250,000 poor animals slaughtered as Nepal celebrates religious festival

Dead Buffalos

More than 250,000 poor animals have been lined up for slaughter as Nepal embarks on a two-day religious festival where buffalo, birds and goats are sacrificed to appease a Hindu goddess. Millions of Hindus flock to the ceremony, which is held every five years at the temple of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in Bariyarpur, Nepal, near the Indian border.

The last time the festival was held, in 2009, more than 250,000 animals were killed, according to animal rights organisation PETA, who is campaigning to put a stop to the practice.

‘It has been a grand day,’ Mangal Chaudhary, head priest at a the Gadhimai temple said. ‘The buffalo sacrifice has ended, but we will continue the rituals with goats and other animals for one more day,’

Baffalo

On the first day, worshippers slaughtered more than 6,000 buffaloes, which were coralled into holding pens in the fields, along with at least 100,000 goats and other animals, Chaudhary said. The festivities will continue on Saturday when at least another 100,000 animals will die in the name of goddess Gadhimai.

More than 80 per cent of Nepal’s 27 million people are Hindus, but unlike most of their counterparts in neighbouring India, they frequently sacrifice animals to appease deities during festivals.

Authorities deployed hundreds of police personnel to make sure there were no clashes between activists and the devotees.
‘It is a ritual connected with people’s faith,’ said Yogendra Dulal, an assistant administrator of the Bara district, where the temple is located. ‘We can’t hurt their sentiments and ban the practice.’ Worshippers believe the animal sacrifice, meant to appease Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, brings them luck and prosperity.

Baffalos

The ritual began at dawn with a ceremonial ‘pancha bali’ or the sacrifice of five animals, comprising a rat, a goat, a rooster, a pig and a pigeon.Although cows are considered sacred by Hindu’s, the thousands of animals seen slaughtered in these pictures are buffalo.

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Source: AP

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