I was delighted this week to hear the wonderful news that animal sacrifice has been banned at Gadhimai Festival. My team has worked tirelessly with Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) to put an end to so many animals being slaughtered, in the name of ‘tradition’.
The festival has been held every five years for centuries, and has seen hundreds of thousands of animals sacrificed, all in the name of the goddess Gadhimai. The festival has caused immeasurable suffering to all the animals involved. Thousands of animals ended their lives in fear and pain.
It’s estimated that more than 500,000 buffalo, goats, chickens and other animals were decapitated at Gadhimai in 2009. Thankfully in 2014 the numbers were reduced significantly after an intense local campaign and the Supreme Court of India prohibiting the movement of animals across the border into Nepal.
This year came even better news: “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.“
This monumental announcement comes after rigorous negotiations by AWNN directly with the Temple Trust. Supporters of Compassion in World Farming also played a major part in ending the bloodshed. Supporter donations helped to fund educational and campaign materials that were used by AWNN in Nepal and my campaigns team with over 134,000 supporters addressed the Nepalese Government, pushing for a ban on slaughter at all festivals in the country, of which Gadhimai is the largest.
After letting our Patron know the good news, Joanna Lumley said “I am so thrilled and moved to think that these awful animal sacrifices are to be ended at Gadhimai. For the sacrificial creatures who would once have died there is now life, and that is the best outcome we could ever have imagined.”
Although this is a huge stride forward and should be celebrated, unfortunately animal sacrifice still continues in Nepal. Without an official organisation lobbying for the continuation of animal slaughter, it’s now hoped that this landmark decision at the Gadhimai Temple represents a catalyst for the Nepalese Government to enforce an outright ban of all slaughter at festivals in the country. Over the next five years, education and campaigning at grass-roots level will be essential to change attitudes towards animal sacrifice so that the ban can be implemented effectively.
All animals deserve a life free of pain and discomfort, and a death that is humane.