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July 29, 2015
Nepal bans animal sacrifice at Gadhimai temple
The centuries old religious practice of mass animal sacrifice at Gadhimai temple in Nepal has been stopped by the temple trust following protracted protests worldwide.
     NEW DELHI: A three centuries old religious ritual of a mass animal sacrifice at a temple in Nepal has come to an end. It was the world's biiggest animal sacrifice, held every five years. The Gadhimai temple trust authorities announced on Tuesday that they were stopping the age-old Hindu practice at the temple festival.

It was believed that if Goddess Gadhimai is propitiated with animal blood, well-being and prosperity will come to the devotees' families. Water buffaloes, pigs, goats, chickens and pigeons were sacrificed.

The Gadhimai temple is located in Bara district, about 150 km south of the capital Kathmandu, in southern Nepal. It is nearer to the Indo-Nepal border and is adjacent to Bihar. A majority of believers belong to Madheshi community.

About 30-40 lakh people participate in the festival, a majority of who are from UP and Bihar in India. In India, animal sacrifice is banned. After the festival, the meat, bones and hides of the animals are sold both in India and Nepal. In 2009, the festival started in the first week of November and ended in the first week of December.

The Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) and the Humane Society International/India had been campaigning for an end to the cruelty to the animals at the festival for a long time.

Recently it was prominently in the news that the HSI had appealed to the Supreme Court of India to intervene and stop the transportation of animals in large numbers from India for mass sacrifice at the Gadhimai temple festival in Nepal.

The Supreme Court of India passed an interim order in October 2014 directing the Union of India to prevent the illegal movement of animals across the border from India to Nepal, to be sacrificed at the Gadhimai Festival, scheduled to be held on in November-December.

Due to worldwide protests by various agencies, in 2014 the number of animals slaughtered came down. Over five lakh buffaloes, goats and other animals were decapitated at Gadhimai in 2009.

In a major victory for animal welfare activists across the globe, the chairman of the Trust, Ram Chandra Shah, said in a statement, "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."

The chairman's statement read, "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."

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