Can you imagine a live goat being thrown in a pond and torn apart by young men? Can you picture 7000 young buffaloes being rounded up and killed by a thousand drunk men carrying khukuri knives? A festival where 200.000 animals are killed to please a goddess? Mass sacrifice with financial support by the government?
Perhaps you cannot. However, events such as these take place regularly in Nepal. We at Friends of SPCAN have launched the 'Worship Without Cruelty' campaign in order to raise awareness about these practices and to ty and stop them. Please take 5 minutes of your time to write a letter to the Nepalese authorities and/or Nepalese Embassy in your country.
The Gadimai Mela takes place every five years in Bariyarpur, Bara district, in the south of Nepal and is scheduled for Kartik (October-November) this year. The fair is infamous for the large number of animals (up to 200.000) which are sacrificed to appease the Gadimai goddess. The fair reaches its climax on an 'auspicious' day, when thousands of buffaloes are sacrificed. The blood letting that takes place turns the entire area into a marshy land of blood. It is expected that this year some 60.000 young he-buffaloes will be killed, as well as an additional 140.000 chicken, goats, pigs, birds and other poultry.
The first ritual during Gadimai is to worship the weapons which are used in the sacrifice. The priests chant different hymns to appease the Goddess Gadimai. Once the pre-sacrificial rituals end the animals are brought in for the kill. The sacrifice starts with the offering of five different animals: pig, buffalo, goat, wild rats and birds which include chicken and pigeon. The different animals represent the mental obscurations sacrificed by the community including anger, stupidity and desire.
After the sacrifice of the first animal, a goat, thousands of pigeons are sacrificed by severing their heads. Next three wild rats are brought and sacrificed before a comb like pole. After this more than 250 people carrying naked swords and axes wrapped in red clothes, all with a license to kill, approach the temple. They frantically rush towards the field where more than 7,000 young buffaloes are kept. Before the beasts are slaughtered, seven buffaloes tied to a pole undergo the sacrificial ritual. In the end, only the heads of those gentle animals who were alive just a few moments ago, remain.
The Khokana festival is held every year in August, the day after Gai Jatra. A 5-6 month old goat is thrown in a pond close to Rudrayani temple in Khokana, a village in the south of Kathmandu Valley. Nine young men enter the pond and start to tear the goat apart by grasping its legs, ears, hoof or tail. The one who manages to kill the goat is the 'hero' and leads the Shinkali dance which is held afterwards. Khokana residents have witnessed the barbaric scene year in year out and think it provides religious merit. It is not clear why and when the cruel goat-killing was introduced. Locals believe that when children started to drown in the pond in the 12th century, residents started to drown a live goat to appease the gods. However, there is evidence showing that devotees in former times offered fruits and flowers in the temple and that the act with the struggling goat was introduced to create a spectacle.
The campaign against the Gadimai and Khokana cruelties will include letter writing to Nepal's political leaders, awareness raising programmes in schools following by signature campaigns, meetings with Bara officials and possibly a demonstration.
"We would like to express our deep concern about extreme cases of animal cruelty being conducted within the Kingdom of Nepal. No one can adequately explain why these practices are carried out year after year and why His Majesty's Government financially supports some of them.
We feel the time has come to abolish the above practices. We urge you to end the violent practices and help Nepal move towards a truly peaceful country, and in keeping with its international image. This can be done by introducing and enforcing a much-needed Animal Welfare Act to curb animal cruelty and by promoting genuine animal welfare activities across the country.
We trust that you will support these measures (which are becoming more popular by the day, around the globe and thus promote non-violent cultural practices in the Kingdom.
The Worship Without Cruelty petition to SPCA Nepal was written by lucia de vries and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.