Every five years, thousands of worshipers flocks to the Bariyarpur village in Nepal. The centuries-old festival is celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Gadhimai. Thousands of animals are brought to the festival arena to be butchered. The Supreme Court of Nepal had encouraged the government to uphold a ban on the senseless butchering of the animals.
However, on December 3, 2019, the Gadhimai Festival began as usual with bloodshed. The festival organising committee, as well as temple priests, refused to intervene in the blatant defiance of the ban. The festival grounds welcomed devotees from both Nepal as well as India, who came with animals ready to be slaughtered.
Animal activists all over the world had been trying to get the festival banned. The event is as condemned by animal rights activists as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. After the slaughter of an estimated 200,000 animals in the year 2014 during the festival, the Nepalese government had decided that the bloodshed needed to end.
AFP pointed out that even after the ban, the devotees remain determined. Most devotees do not even question the ritualistic sacrifice. Devotees like Rajesh Kumar Das take animals to get killed because someone in their family has instructed them to do so.
Even though 200 butchers enter the walled sacrificial arena with sharpened knives and swords, the method of dispatching the animals has remained questionable. Indian animal rights organisations like People for Animals (PFA) and Humane Society International (HIS) put pressure on the Indian government to try and reduce the illegal transportation of animals to Nepal for the event.
Indian border authorities and animal rights organisation volunteers have ceased hundreds of animals being taken to the border village from India. The check on unlicensed traders and pilgrims taking animals has had a very small impact.
HIS India has been constantly posting updates on Facebook, which are provided by volunteers of the organisation. The organisation claims that the first day of the festival counts more than 3,500 buffaloes sacrificed, but they have been able to save more than a thousand animals.
In the coming days, thousands of buffaloes, goats, rats, chickens, pigs, and pigeons will be hacked to death as authorities turn a blind eye.