Devotees in Nepal prepare to sacrifice 300,000 animals
November 23, 2009
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Representatives of various faiths light butter lamps in Kathmandu at a protest against the ritual slaughter of thousands of animals.
Representatives of various faiths light butter lamps in Kathmandu at a protest against the ritual slaughter of thousands of animals. Photo: AFP
THOUSANDS of Hindu devotees have flocked to a village in Nepal ahead of the planned sacrifice of more than 300,000 animals in a ceremony condemned by animal rights activists.
Priests are preparing for the slaughter of more than 15,000 buffaloes and 300,000 birds, goats and sheep during the event, which starts tomorrow and is thought to be the world’s biggest ritual sacrifice.
Every five years, the village of Bariyapur, near Nepal’s southern border with India, hosts this religious festival dedicated to Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. ”Preparations for the festival are in full swing,” Mangal Chaudhary Tharu, the main priest at the Gadhimai temple, said.
He said visitor numbers were expected to be higher this year because it was the first such ceremony since the end of Nepal’s conflict in 2006, and he vowed to go ahead with the sacrifice despite the protests. He expected more than a million people to attend.
Nepal’s Government has refused to put a stop to what it says is a centuries-old religious tradition, and has pledged 4.5 million rupees ($A65,000) in funding. ”People have deep faith in the goddess and they believe that sacrificing animals will bring them good luck and prosperity for their families,” said Tharu.
”I don’t think the mood will be spoiled by the animal rights campaigners. They have the right to raise their concerns and we have the right to continue with our age-old tradition.”
Armed police have been deployed to keep the peace, and authorities have banned alcohol during the festival, which begins with the ritual sacrifice of two wild rats, a rooster, a pig, a goat and a lamb.
The meat is distributed to the devotees and to local people, while contractors bid for the animal hides – making the slaughter a lucrative venture.
But veteran animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot this month wrote to Nepal’s President urging him to put a stop to the festival. ”Thousands of terrified buffaloes will have their heads cut off by drunken devotees,”
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