November 2009


Horrible animal slaughter in the name of religion!  This is a brutal and inhumane custom that brings shame on all those that participate. To kill harmless animals in the name of God is an abomination. This mass slaughter runs counter to Hindu principles of reverence for life. I try to be very open minded about the beliefs of others but this just makes me sick. I can’t see any bright side to this whatsoever.

I commend the actress and animal activist Brigitte Bardot for standing up for animals.

‘WORLD’S BIGGEST ANIMAL SACRIFICE’ BEGINS
By Deepesh Shrestha
AFP
November 24, 2009

Up to a million Hindu devotees have gathered in a village in Nepal to
witness the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals in a mass
sacrifice that has drawn widespread criticism.

Worshippers travelled long distances, many coming from India, to attend the
two-day Gadhimai festival, which honours the Hindu goddess of power and
takes place once every five years in southern Nepal.

A huge cry of “Long Live Gadhimai!” went up after the village temple’s head
priest launched the event with the ritual sacrifice of two wild rats, two
pigeons, a rooster, a lamb and a pig.

The crowd then rushed to a nearby field where 250 sword-wielding butchers
were waiting to begin the mass slaughter of about 20,000 buffalo, brought by
devotees to be sacrificed near the holy temple.

“This is a very special day for Hindu devotees,” head priest Mangal
Chaudhary Tharu told AFP as the Gadhimai festival began.

“All the people who came here to worship Gadhimai have been waiting a long
time for this day. I am very proud to be part of this event,” added Tharu,
the fourth generation of his family to serve as a priest at the temple.

An AFP reporter at the scene said up to a million devotees were crammed into
the area for the festival. Many were from India, where some states have
banned animal slaughter for religious purposes.

Mahesh Yadav, a Nepalese farmer who arrived at the site with a black goat
tethered to the back of his bicycle, said he wanted to thank the goddess for
giving him a son.

“I had seven daughters in a row so I promised the goddess I would sacrifice
a goat if she gave me a son,” he told AFP.

“Eight years ago the goddess listened and my son was born.”

Nepal’s government has refused to put a stop to what it says is a
centuries-old religious tradition, despite a vocal opposition campaign from
local animal rights activists who say the slaughter is needless cruelty.

Their cause is supported by the well-known Indian animal rights activist
Maneka Gandhi and by the French film star turned campaigner Brigitte Bardot,
who this month wrote to Nepal’s president urging him to put a stop to the
festival.

Armed police have been deployed around the temple grounds and there were
fears of clashes between animal rights activists and festival-goers.

But the campaigners appeared to have stayed away after making a last-ditch
appeal to the government to stop the event over the weekend.

The buffalo slaughter took place in a huge field surrounded by three-metre
wall, and will be followed on Tuesday by the ritual sacrifice of around
300,000 goats, sheep and birds.

Many festival-goers scaled the wall to get a better view of the killings,
carried out by volunteers using specially-built bamboo cages to prevent the
animals from escaping.

Jaya Lal Thakur, a 34-year-old local barber, said he paid 210 rupees ($4.90)
for a licence to work at the festival and had already slaughtered dozens of
buffalo.

“This is the second time I’ve slaughtered buffalo at the Gadhimai festival.
I don’t get paid to do it but I believe it will bring me salvation,” he told
AFP.

“This is a rare opportunity and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

At one point police used batons to disperse the crowds and prevent a
stampede, an AFP reporter witnessed, but there were no casualties and the
event appeared mainly peaceful.

Nepal’s government has provided 4.5 million rupees ($105,510) in funding for
the festival, a lucrative event for organisers, who sell the hides to
contractors after the slaughter.

The meat is distributed among local people, some of whom set up stalls
selling sweets and drinks.

Authorities have banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in the area, but
reports said five people including one Indian national died at the weekend
after drinking home-brewed alcohol.

————

My recommendation is to go to the Nepalese Embassy website and complain vociferously: http://www.nepalembassyusa.org/contact.php

Anil Bhanot speaks out in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/25/gadhimai-animal-sacrifice-nepal

Another article from the Guardian:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/24/hindu-sacrifice-gadhimai-festival-nepal

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I hope people who vote “other” would leave a comment explanatory of “other”. Thanks.

P1010036

Shortly before the New York Marathon, I was visited by two very friendly and interesting Maasai warriors from Kenya who were getting acclimated to our town before they participated as runners. I’d visited Kenya and Tanzania about twenty years ago and met a few Maasai people on that trip, so I knew a tiny bit about their rich culture. I am impressed by their care for the environment and their cattle. This visit had nothing to do with my long ago trip, but I am glad to see that these proud people are preserving their culture.