Main priest appeals for slaughter-free ritualsThe 2019 Gadhimai Mela, a religious ritual of supposedly the world’s largest sacrifice, is going to be a bloodshed-free affair, if the devotees follow the management’s call.
In a press meet in Delhi on Tuesday, Mangal Chaudhary, main priest of the temple committee, appealed to people not to bring animals inside the temple premises at the Gadhimai Fair that is held in Bara district every five years.
“We have decided not to hold any sacrifices inside the temple. We will urge people to not bring animals along but ask them to perform a slaughter-free puja,” he said.
The announcement follows rigorous negotiations and campaigning by Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) and Humane Society International/India, which has been working with the Gadhimai Trust for an end to the ritual where buffalo calves along with a slew of smaller animals such as goats, pigs, rats, pigeons and hens are sacrificed. They believe the sacrifice will bring them prosperity and the Goddess Gadhimai fulfils their wishes.
Secretary of the Gadhimai Trust, Ram Chandra Shah, who was not present at the conference, stated in a letter that they would work with the activists as they plan to organise public awareness campaigns against the mass slaughter.
Shah said they would have to be careful about the devotees’ sentiment and it was not for the committee to ban something. “It is very important to acknowledge people’s sentiments and make sure that they understand. We might ban it but what can we do when people bring animals?” he said.
Manoj Gautam, founding member of the AWNN, applauded the temple committee’s announcement and said that they hope to continue their support in future endeavours. He said their focus was to increase public awareness and to create a long-term plan of developing the Bariyapur area.
“We will work to improve the area and show that animal slaughter is not necessary to develop a place and attract tourists,” he said.
The festival was last held in November last year when around 5,000 buffaloes and another 100,000 smaller animals like goats and chickens were slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of devotees flock to Bariyapur for the month long festival.
A month before the sacrifice, the Indian Supreme Court had passed an order restricting the movement of animals from India into Nepal. The armed border force and activists had patrolled the international border to enforce the order, limiting the number of animals across to Bara. Seventy percent of the buffaloes come from India.