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Animal sacrifice is a part of some Durga puja celebrations during the Navratri in eastern states of India. The goddess is offered sacrificial animal in this ritual in the belief that it stimulates her violent vengeance against the buffalo demon. The tradition dates back to a priest who was told about 250 years ago in a dream that spilled blood would encourage Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, to free him from prison.
A sacrificial ceremony that is held every 5 years at the Gadhimai Temple of Bariyarpur, in Bara District, about 100 miles south of the capital Kathmandu is called Gadhimai festival. The Gadhimai festival is known as the world’s bloodiest festival where thousands animals prepared for sacrifice are slaughtered.
The Supreme Court of Nepal on a case filed by Advocate Arjun Kumar Aryal, Rajyalaxmi Golcha & Gita Prasad Dahal has given a full order directing the relevant agencies to create an action plan to discourage and eventually end animal sacrifice at Gadhimai and elsewhere in the country. An estimated 200,000 animals ranging from goats to rats were butchered during the last two-day Gadhimai festival in 2014, held in honour of the Hindu goddess of power.
Despite the efforts of animal protector to end such cruel traditions, the festival began with Hindu worshippers preparing to kill thousands of animals.
As The Guardian reports, about 200 butchers with sharpened swords and knives then walked into a walled arena bigger than a football field, holding several thousand buffalo, as excited pilgrims climbed trees to catch a glimpse.
“The sacrifices have begun today … We had tried not to support it but people have faith in the tradition and have come here with their offerings,” Birendra Prasad Yadav, from the festival organising committee, told AFP.
“Those who are against the festival will continue to protest and those who wish to worship the goddess will do so,” said a woman from Kolhabi. “No one can stop it. Our faith is important and sacrifices validate it.”
“Look at these hundreds of people,” she added, pointing to a sea of attendees. “They are here because of their faith.”
“We are not against traditions and culture but if such practices hurt animals then we must step forward to end them,” said Sneha Shrestha, president of the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal.
Manoj Gautam, an animal rights activist who has been campaigning against the festival for 11 years, filed a contempt case in Kathmandu’s supreme court against the Nepalese government and Gadhimai temple committee for disregarding the 2015 supreme court ruling.