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Nepal’s religious mass animal slaughter under way

Updated November 29, 2014

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Bariyapur (Nepal): Sacrificed buffaloes lie on the ground of an enclosed compound during a ceremony, known as the ‘Gadhimai Mela’, on Friday.—Reuters
Bariyapur (Nepal): Sacrificed buffaloes lie on the ground of an enclosed compound during a ceremony, known as the ‘Gadhimai Mela’, on Friday.—Reuters

BARIYAPUR: Hordes of Hindu worshippers were on Friday slaughtering thousands of animals in a remote corner of Nepal to honour their goddess of power, defying a chorus of protests from rights activists.

Sword-wielding devotees have poured into the village of Bariyapur near the Indian border which will become the world’s largest abattoir during the two-day festival, with animals ranging from buffaloes to rats butchered.

“It is very festive here, everyone is excited,” said head priest Mangal Chaudhary at the slaughter site near a temple devoted to Hindu goddess Gadhimai.

Animal carcasses and severed heads were piling up in a large field near the village where thousands of devotees were carrying out the sacrifices, eyewitnesses said.

“It is very bloody... you can hear the animals moaning,” said Rameshwor Mehta, 50, who was waiting to offer his prayers.

Worshippers on the first day were sacrificing mainly buffaloes, thousands of which have been coralled into holding pens in the field, before moving on to other animals.

Sita Ram Yadav, a 55-year-old farmer who had travelled three hours to attend the festival, said the atmosphere was “like a carnival” with devotees packing the area.

“I am offering a goat to Gadhimai to keep my family safe. If you believe in her, she grants your wishes,” Yadav said.

Worshippers from Nepal and neighbouring India have spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers to the goddess at a temple decked with flowers in preparation.The festival kicked off at midnight amid tight security, with the ceremonial killing of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and a pigeon.

Some 1,200 police personnel were patrolling the village and the field where sacrifices were taking place to control crowds gathered to watch.

Published in Dawn, November 29th , 2014