“For every life taken, our heart becomes double heavier. The time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration,” Spoke Ram Chandra Shah, the chairman of Gadhimai temple trust. It is amazing to hear such opinions against bloodshed, against the brutality of long sharp blades, against the violation of an animals’ right to live and against inhuman activities of Hindu religion in Gadhimai festival.
Gadhimai puja is world’s largest animal sacrificing event which is “celebrated” every five years. During this Hindu festival, the temple of Gadhimai is visited by a huge mass of people. This festival is believed to have its roots dating 265 years to the past, when a feudal landlord in prison dreamed that he would be free from his worldly sufferings after making a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai, the goddess of power. This practice has been continued with the same belief since then. According to data, in 2014 alone around 2,50,000 animals were slaughtered to appease goddess and about 5 million people among which 80% were believed to be Indian nationals visited the temple of goddess Gadhimai just to watch the killings. This festival starts with ‘panchabali’ – sacrifice of five different animals; a rat, a goat, a rooster, a pig and a pigeon. Two hundred men armed with sharp razor blades slaughter thousands of innocent animals; mostly buffaloes inside the wall of Gadhimai.
A need for change was necessarily felt to be made against this dreadful killing of animals and the decision of this positive change was made by Nepal’s temple trust in Delhi after a rigorous negotiation and campaigning by Animals’ Protection Charity and Humane Society International, India and Animal Welfare Network, Nepal to end this bloody tradition. The chairman of Gadhimai Temple Trust said “the Gadhimai temple hereby declares our formal decision to end animal sacrifice which we can ensure through mass education and local development and can ensure that Gadhimai 2019 is going to be a momentous celebration of life, free from bloodshed and hopes to bring enlightment and prosperity in religion.”
After this declaration, 70% less animals were sacrificed in 2019 compared to the data of 2009. More than 100 people were arrested on berating the order and over 25000 animals were saved from needless brutal death in the name of religion. But to stop this bloody tradition more work is yet to be done. We need to change the mindset of Hindu devotees who think that blood is justified. This is a big issue as it incorporates challenging the deep seated religious faith of Hindu communities. Regarding this, Mr.Yogendra Dulal, the assistant administrator of Bara district said “It is a ritual connected with their faith and we cannot implement rules by hurting our people’s sentiments.” which is very true. It is very much necessary to guide them towards the end of the tradition through education, awareness and enforcement of law. Change doesn’t happen overnight but keeping a little faith that change, one day will happen and working on animal rights and activism are the steps local bodies have been taking in this issue.