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While festive season is on in India, its neighboring country Nepal too is basking in its own worshipping of Gods and Goddesses. In its merriment, innumerable number of animals are destined to be sacrificed. Vivek Borah takes a sneak peek into the state of affairs of these helpless animals in the Himalayan Kingdom……….


Dasain: Dasain Festival is Nepal’s biggest festival which is celebrated during the month of Kartik(late September and early October). During the Dasain Festival(Dasain and Chaita Dasain) priests perform various tantric rituals to Goddess Durga Bhawani and the living Goddess Kumari. Dasain witnesses the greatest number of animal sacrifices. During Kalrati, in TalejuTemple, the Nepal Government publicly beheads 54 buffaloes and 54 male goats, followed by the sacrifice of 108 buffaloes by the Nepal Army. The event draws many devotees and is screened on national television. This marks the start of mass sacrifice by the people across the country. It is estimated that hundreds and thousands of goats are sacrificed during Dasain festival as well as unknown number of buffaloes, ducks, chicken, birds, etc.


Dasain at Taleju Temple in Bhaktapur, is soaked with blood. The heads of the animals are displayed around the image of Taleju. During the Navadurga dances on the ninth day of Dasain, people feed a water buffalo drunk on rich beer. The staggering animal is chased by a crowd of people to Brahmayami where nine Goddesses are installed at the night. The priest performs a tantric worship to sacrifice the drunk buffalo believed to be possessed by a demon called Mahisasur.


The nine Navadurga receive a fountain of blood in their mouth directly from the vein of the buffalo. In one ritual a dancer bites off the head of a cock and drinks the blood that spills out. Another ritual is the chasing of a sacrificial pig, stolen by a group of young men and boys. The youngster runs around carrying the squeaking pigs under their jacket and passing it quickly from one to the other. The animal is released after two hours upon which a dancer grabs it. He tears the heart of the piglet, after which it is eaten raw. As the dancer are forbidden to use knives or instruments, the lead dancer tears the skin under the piglet’s four legs with his finger nails, inserts his hands and pulls out the heart. The dancer drinks blood from the piglet’s open chest. This is the culture of Newar community. Newars have a lot of other rituals which are very cruel.

Indrayani: This festival is held during the new moon night at the Indrani Temple at Sambhunath. During the previous night, three buffaloes are slaughtered in the temple. The first buffalo’s throat is cut and its blood sprayed all over the temple and all the Goddesses’ images. The head, heart and lungs of the buffaloes are burned in the sacred fire. Climax of the festival is the sacrifice of a pair of live snakes by throwing them into a sacrificial fire. Apart from snakes, pair of live sparrows, grasshoppers and fishes are burnt alive while others are released by throwing them into the air.

Gadhimai: This festival is held in Bara district which takes place every five year in the month of November. It is known as one of the worst forms of animal cruelty in the world. In a span of two days some close to 2,00,000 animals are sacrificed. Twenty thousand buffaloes are publicly beheaded by licensed butchers who randomly hack the animals to death. Within a distance of 5km around the Gadhimai Temple anyone can kill any kind of animal in whatever manner. After two days the place turns into a foul smelling marsh land covered in blood and animal remains.

We the public in general are not against any religion, but disrespect any such cruelty in the name of God. There are numerous sacrificial rituals in Nepal which go unreported. This includes the killing of piglets during Dasain Festival. Nepal desperately needs enforceable legislation to protect defenseless animals from such abuse and cruelty. For the moment, all these helpless animals can just say in unison – ‘spare us for your God’s sake’.

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