300 years of animal sacrifice to finally end at Nepal’s Gadhimai festival

For years chickens, cows, goats, pigeons, pigs and water buffalo were killed at Nepal’s Gadhimai festival. And for years, Humane Society International/India and Animal Welfare Network Nepal have been lobbying to the Nepal Gadhimai temple trust stop the “bludgeoning” and “decapitation” of millions of animals. Animal rights officials even turned to India’s Supreme Court to stop the movement of animals from that country to the Nepalese festival, which has helped curb the cruelty.

Today, those efforts have become a reality.

“The Gadhimai Temple Trust hereby declares our formal decision to end animal sacrifice. With your help, we can ensure Gadhimai 2019 is free from bloodshed. Moreover, we can ensure Gadhimai 2019 is a momentous celebration of life,” chairman of the trust, Ram Chandra Shah, said in a statement.

“For generations, pilgrims have sacrificed animals to the Goddess Gadhimai, in the hope of a better life. For every life taken, our heart is heavy. The time has come to transform an old tradition. The time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration.

Our concern has been this: how do we convince the people, so desperate for the favour of Gadhimai, that there is another way? How do we bring them on our journey? Thankfully, the dedicated efforts of the Animal Welfare Network Nepal and Humane Society International/India has shown us the path and provided the motivation to make this transformation a reality.”

Animal welfare groups who spearheaded the move to end the slaughter of millions of animals rejoiced.

“WE DID IT,” AWNN announced on Facebook.

“Today, the world’s biggest ritual slaughter of animals officially got confined to the history books. At a press conference in New Delhi, organized by AWNN, Humane Society International and People for Animals, the Gadhimai Temple Trust announced its decision to end animal sacrifice. It’s been a long, hard fought campaign full of twists and turns and some major setbacks over the last 5 years. But we have made a lot of friends along the journey and want to thank every one of YOU for your support. We have a lot of work still to do to work together with the Gadhimai Temple Trust to educate the public and make Gadhimai 2019 a great celebration of peace and nonviolence.”

Animal Welfare Network Nepal/Facebook
Animal Welfare Network Nepal/Facebook

The festival, which takes place about 160 km from Kathmandu and is held every five years, for the last three centuries, is considered the world’s biggest animal sacrifice event. (The photos and videos are in most cases too gruesome to share.)

A thank you letter is now circulating on social media via the Humane Society directed at the temple trust:

“Dear Members of the Gadhimai Temple Trust,

I applaud your decision to end the mass slaughter of innocent animals and thank you for hearing the thousands of people who expressed their outrage and sorrow over the killing.

By replacing violence with peaceful celebration, you have sent a message to the global community that animal sacrifice has no place in the modern world.

I hope that you will support other endeavors to protect animals across Nepal.”


Photos Animal Welfare Network Nepal/Humane Society International

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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