Every five years in Nepal, thousands of buffalo are killed as part of a sacrifice that has existed for centuries.
The bloodshed is held in honour of the Hindu goddess of power and 200,000 animals, ranging from rats to goats to buffaloes were butchered during the last two-day festival held in 2014. The Gadhimal festival is supposed to be banned and the Supreme Court of Nepal has even ordered the government to try and prevent it from happening.
Still some devout Hindu worshippers who believe the sacrifice is necessary persist.
The Gadhimai festival began in the early hours of Tuesday amid tight security, with the ceremonial slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and a pigeon. A local shaman then offered blood from five points of his body.
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.
Thousands of worshippers from Nepal and neighbouring India had spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers ahead of the event in Bariyarpur village, close to the Indian border.
“I believe in the goddess. My mother had asked her for the good health of my son,” one of them, Rajesh Kumar Das, 30, told AFP, holding a goat in his hand.
Animal rights activists say government agencies and temple committees have failed to implement these rulings.
Indian border authorities and volunteers have in recent days seized scores of animals being brought across the frontier by unlicensed traders and pilgrims, but this has failed to stop the flow.
According to legend, the first sacrifices in Bariyarpur were conducted several centuries ago when the goddess Gadhimai appeared to a prisoner in a dream and asked him to establish a temple to her.
Nepal is so proud of its wildlife that it promotes tourism to encourage people to visit some of the species endemic to the country. It has 850 species of birds and 185 species of mammals are found in various parts of the Nepal. (That’s why we’re showing a photo of a bird from the country’s tourism site rather than the horrific images of the animal slaughter).
Nepal’s dense tarai jungles are home to exotic animals like the Asiatic elephant, the one-horned rhinoceros, the Royal Bengal tiger among others.
Also found in the country are the leopard, monkey, langur, hyena, jackal, wild boar, antelope, wild cat, wolf, sloth bear, chital or spotted deer and barking deer. Wild buffalo locally called “Arna” is found in the Koshi Tappu region.
The western Tarai jungles of Suklaphanta is home to the swamp deer, while the endangered blackbucks are found in the Bardia region.
This video is not of the slaughter but another video of the worship in Nepal of dog in another ceremony called Tihar.