After years of pressure and petitions, the Nepalese authorities have finally yielded to the indignation of NGOs and public opinion by ending the ritual sacrifice of 500,000 animals taking place during the Gadhimai Festival. A landmark decision that gives hope for all similar causes …
Examples of animal cruelty are not lacking in the news, but for once, animal welfare associations have something to celebrate. The Gadhimai Festival, a Hindu festival celebrated every five years in Nepal, will now run without shedding the blood of any animal.
The Gadhimai Festival, located in Bariyapur, 160 kilometers south of Kathmandu, a Hindu festival celebrated every five years in Nepal and the largest animal sacrifice theater in the world (between 300,000 and 500,000) will now be held without flow of blood. The decision is indeed historic, at a time when real ethics arise around the animal cause.
This 300-year-old custom was dedicated to mass animal sacrifice to appease the wrath of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in the hope of a better life, so they were millions to make the trip to assist or participate in the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals beheaded with machetes, provoking outrage from opponents of the practice.
According to legend, the first sacrifices took place centuries ago when Gadhimai appeared in a dream to a prisoner and asked him to build a temple in his honor. When he awoke, freed from his chains, he left the prison to build this temple where he sacrificed animals to thank her.
Every 5 years, 5 million pilgrims undertook this trip, 80% of whom brought with them the animals to sacrifice during these two days of festival.
During this ritual festival, it was customary to slaughter up to half a million animals: calves, cows, buffaloes, goats, goats, chickens, pigeons were beheaded with extreme brutal machetes. Terrible images, some of which are historical, showing mass graves of recumbent corpses were spread all over the world causing indignation and disgust.
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The time of change
Thanks to international pressure, but also thanks to local pressure within India and Nepal, Ram Chandra Shah, president of the Gadhimai Temple Foundation, has officially announced the total and definitive cessation of ritual sacrifices from next festival planned in 2019. The festival Gadhimai will now be an opportunity to celebrate life and peace and no longer violence and death under the guise of tradition. A rare cultural evolution and open-mindedness of local decision makers who demonstrate that any culture can be evolutionary and not anchored in the marble as some conservatives want to believe.
The main question was how to convince the pilgrims that there were other ways to worship the goddess Gadhimai? The concerted efforts of Indian and Nepalese associations through targeted campaigns and systematic public awareness of this cause have helped to turn the tide. A petition has been submitted to the Indian Supreme Court to prevent the transport of animals between India and Nepal to the festival. The resulting ban has reduced the number of animals killed since 2009 by 70%. This decision of the Indian Supreme Court has allowed the arrest of more than 100 people who do not comply with this rule. . The last festival of 2014 saw, thanks to this simple measure, a drastic reduction of the number of sacrificed animals.
As Gauri Maulekhi, an activist with the Indian association People for Animals, said: “This is a huge victory of compassion that will save the lives of countless animals. We were heartbroken to witness Gadhimai’s bloodshed, and now we will have to work hard to reinforce this ban on sacrifices in the future. We salute the temple committee, but we must recognize that a heavy public awareness task is waiting for us to be informed. We will spend three and a half years, until the next festival, to educate followers of the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal regarding the decision of the Gadhimai Temple Foundation to stop sacrificing ‘animals. The sacrifice of animals is a terribly regressive practice, no nation in the modern world should perpetuate it. “
The hope of the new generations
We can only welcome the wise decision of Nepal not to want to indulge in these bloodthirsty practices in the name of tradition (and especially belief). At a time when countries like the Faroe Islands boast of the same notion of “tradition” to justify the ritual slaughter of cetaceans, Nepal’s drive for compassion can be seen as a courageous example of respect for animals. and their right to life. Nepal has a strong question here: can one celebrate one’s traditions by celebrating life rather than destroying it? In view of the global humanitarian and environmental situation, it seems that only one logic is able to make Humanity’s credentials stand out.