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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Mass Animal Sacrifice in Nepa

by jkapeed
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Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

LARGEST ANIMAL SACRIFICE IN THE WORLD HAPPENS DESPITE BAN 

Despite outcry from animal rights groups, a festival widely considered to be the largest mass-slaughter of animals on Earth happened in Nepal this week, according to the Guardian. The two-day Gadhimai festival has been held every five years for the last 260 years in the village of Bariyarpur, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Kathmandu, where it attracts  thousands of Hindu worshippers from Nepal and neighboring India. Amid tight security, the festival opened on Tuesday with the ritual slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig, and a pigeon, as a local shaman also offered blood taken from five points on his body. After this initial killing, around 200 butchers brandishing sharpened swords and knives entered the festival arena, a walled area larger than a football field, leading in several thousand buffalo. In the days prior, Indian authorities and volunteers seized dozens of animals at the border from unlicensed traders and pilgrims, but this effort failed to stop the massive flow of animals to the festival. Animal rights activist Manoj Gautam of Nepal’s Jane Goodall Institute told CNN that his organization used drones to count a total of about 1,600 to 1,800 buffalo in the area before the slaughter began. “There is no compassion. There is no spirituality. It is just sport. It is wasteful,” he said. Gautam also suggested that the religious aspect of the festival had been lost in recent years. The sacrifices are part of a legend involving the Hindu goddess Gadhimai, and worshippers believe that the ritual will please the goddess and bring them good fortune.

Many activists were hopeful that the tradition would end after Gadhimai temple authorities announced a ban on the event in 2015, but devotees went ahead with the ritual, disregarding the religious leaders’ prohibition. Humane Society International (HSI) estimates that 500,000 goats, buffalo, pigeons, and other animals were slaughtered in 2009, but that number dropped to about 30,000 in 2014. In September, the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the government to pass laws making animal sacrifices illegal.

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