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Animal Sacrifice at Gadhimai Festival in Nepal
Animals Asia has joined campaigners from Nepalese, Indian and international animal welfare organisations calling for an end to the planned slaughter of over 500,000 animals due to take place at the Gadhimai Jatra festival in Nepal.
The festival takes place every five years in Bariyarpur, Bara district in Southern Nepal and, according to the organizers, some 700.000 people, more than half of them from bordering Indian states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, visited the Gadhimai Temple in 2004. This year the organizers plan to sacrifice 500,000 animals to appease the goddess Gadhimai. The festival starts on November 24 and, according to the rules of the festival, all animals must be killed in the first two days.
In addition to the immense animal cruelty this slaughter will cause the festival also poses a great potential health risk. Director General Dr Prabhakar Pathap of the Department of Livestock Services said: "In 1994 Gadhimai brought Goat Plague or Pest des Petite Ruminants PPR to the country. The government invested already one crore rupees to try to fight this disease. The Chinese government has reportedly asked the Nepalese government to address the problem as the disease can easily travel to neighbouring countries." Dr Pathak said there is only one quarantine office in Bara district but not a single animal traveling to Gadhimai passes through this office. "The border is porous and we would need major resources to make sure no sick animal ends up in Bara."
Dr Pathak said he does not have the mandate to address the issue of Gadhimai but frankly admitted that the festival is a major cause for health concerns.
Nepalese campaigners have joined hands to form the Stop Animal Sacrifice Alliance. In a petition signed by over 2,500 people the network calls for an end to the "extreme cruelty" taking place at "the world's largest animal sacrifice". The petition is addressed to the President, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the Minister of Agriculture.
The network says at Gadhimai "innocent creatures are killed en masse in an unorganized and unregulated manner. The buffaloes are in fact killed by drunken devotees who enter the temple area with 'khukuri' knives to cut off the heads of frightened animals."
According to the network, "no one can adequately explain why these practices are carried out year after year – except to say they are 'traditional'. This however is not a valuable argument to commence these practices; Nepal, realizing the adverse effects, has abolished a number of 'traditions' in the past, including human sacrifice and widow burning."
Animal Welfare Network Nepal campaigner Pramada Shah said "by perpetuating such a mass massacre in the name of religion, culture and tradition in the 21st century, we are projecting Nepal as a barbaric country." Former Indian minister and animal rights campaigner Maneka Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, urging him to prevent the wanton killings. "Many people in Nepal and the subcontinent are concerned about this sacrifice" she wrote. "Your government has taken so many humane steps – banning the export of monkeys, for instance. Since you have introduced the Meat Act, which makes the humane killing of animals mandatory, these acts during the Gadhimai Festival would be illegal."
In the words of Indian scientist Dr Krishna: "Animal sacrifice is cruel, disgusting and primitive. Bloody sacrifices brutalise the viewer, confusing the distinction between right and wrong. If one man supports animal sacrifice, another will support human sacrifice, the killing of children and women. How can any of these be permitted in a civilised society? All cultures and religions evolve, discarding ugly practices. Animal sacrifice must be rejected and discarded as a natural evolution of human consciousness."
For more details of Maneka Gandhi's letter to the Nepalese government click on the link below:
Unfortunately, even with this protest movement the Nepalese government has said they will not intervene and stop this barbaric and mass slaughter taking place.
Animals Asia has sent letters of protest to the Nepalese government officials listed. A copy of our letter is below. You can help support our efforts to battle this atrocity. Please send courteous letters to the Nepalese government officials and embassies in your country calling for an end to this barbaric slaughter and registering your disgust that Nepal allows this festival to take place:
Details of Nepalese embassies across the world can be found
. Click on the embassy in your country and send a letter to the Ambassador/Consulate-General
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Newsletter relevant to:
Right Honorable Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal
Prime Minister’s Office
Dear Prime Minister,
Animal Sacrifice at Gadhimai Mela
I am writing on behalf of Animals Asia Foundation, a Hong Kong-headquartered non-government organisation dedicated to improving the lives and welfare of all animals across Asia.
We are deeply concerned to hear of the pending slaughter of over 500,000 animals at the Gadhimai Festival due to begin on November 24. This unregulated slaughter is illegal under Nepalese laws and will cause immense suffering for the hundreds of thousands of animals due to be slaughtered. It will also bring shame upon your country and your people.
The mass, uncontrolled movement of animals to this festival also poses a great health risk through the potential transmission of animal borne diseases. Many of the animals will arrive illegally from across the Indian border effectively bypassing animal quarantine posts.
This slaughter has led to international condemnation for your country. As an international animal protection group that have always welcomed and supported the animal welfare progress in Nepal, particularly your recent ban on the export of macaques for research, there is now serious concern with regards to this festival.
Tradition is no justification for this barbaric mass slaughter, people both within Nepal and internationally are calling for an end to this atrocity and we urge you to work in conjunction with the festival organizers to end this immediately.
Animal Welfare Director
Animals Asia Foundation
Tel:+ 44 (0) 1579 347148
Fax: + 44 (0) 1579 347343
1) Honourable Mr. Mrigendra Kumar Singh Yadav
Minister of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives,
2) Embassies of Nepal globally