10 min read

There's Nothing Religious About Nepal's Buffalo Sacrifices

Warning: the video included below contains graphic images.

The Gadhimai festival of Bara district in Nepal takes place every five years; attendees believe a fairytale that they will have good luck by hacking to death over a half a million animals. A thousand men are hired to do the killing and prior to the massacre they celebrate and drink heavily. When the killing begins the drunken men, inexperienced in slaughter and armed with dull, unsharpened knives and machetes cause the animals to die a long, slow agonizing death.

"Wielding swords, men enter a fenced yard where around 20,000 are kept, and start hacking at the buffaloes' necks. As the killers cannot chop off the buffaloes' heads at once, they first cut the hind legs. After the animal falls on the ground the men hack until the buffalo's head is separated from the body. It takes up to twenty five attempts to kill a big buffalo. The suffering is unimaginable," says Pramada Shah, president of the Animal Welfare Network Nepal During the slaughter the nearby lake is so filled with the blood of the animals that absolutely nothing can live in the water for years, it takes almost five years for the lake to regenerate. By then it is bloodbath time again. Prior to the "festival" the animals are made to walk up to 500 miles from India to Nepal. Most are starved and deprived of water the entire trip. They are beaten and tortured to keep moving and many animals die along the way. Once at the site the massacre takes place in an open field with spectators, including women and children, watching and cheering on as mother buffaloes are killed in front of their young. Animals sit in a pool of blood waiting for their own brutal end. Many animals try to escape but are hunted down.

The event is held in front of thousands of children and is nothing short of child abuse on the part of the parent who brings their children there to witness the continuous beheading and hacking to death of a half a million animals. This type of abuse normalizes insensitivity in children who can become numb to the suffering of living beings.

As always, follow the money. The Gadhimai blood bath profits the Indian meat and leather (industry) mafia, as well as government hired contractors from China. The Nepali government spent $4.5 million on the slaughter in 2009, the numbers are not in from this year as of yet.

It is time that outdated traditions, rituals and habits are done away with. This sadistic bloodbath is based on a dream that a criminal in a Nepali prison had during the 18th century. The criminal, named Bhagwan Chaudhary, dreamed that all his problems would be solved if he made a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai, a goddess of power. Immediately upon his release from prison he and a local village healer started the ritual with drops of their own blood from five parts of their body. Apparently, a light then "appeared" in a jar and the fairytale turned horror story began. How it jumped from drops of their own blood to the mass slaughter of over a half a million animals is anyone's guess. The slaughter is a made up superstition with hopes that they will receive good luck by hacking to death a scared, bewildered innocent animal.

Even if somehow religion validates something so horrific, this atrocity has nothing to do with religion. The priest of the Gadhimai Temple himself is against this "sacrifice." The savages claim that the bloodbath is in the name of their Hindu religion; Hinduism is based in tolerance, non-violence and humanity. Hinduism forbids animal sacrifice and meat processing, based on the doctrine of ahimsa.

A Kathmandu resident, Motilal Kushwaha had promised the Hindu goddess Gadhimai that he would offer her a male goat if one of his children found a job. Last year his son found a job. This past week Motilal Kushwaha was one of the tens of thousands of drunken people in the field hacking to death frightened animals at the world's biggest mass murder.

Shah notes:

"When I ask educated people why they don't stop sacrifice, at least in their own family, they answer that bad luck could be the outcome and that a tragedy might occur. They feel it is better to continue the age old traditions and be safe. With such widespread deep-rooted superstition it is easy to imagine how hard it is for campaigners to address this issue. The superstitious nature of the stands in the way of abolishing archaic practices such as animal sacrifice as well as witchcraft, racial discrimination, women's suppression and others."

The following video pulls back the curtain on this holocaust attempting to hide behind religion.

Warning: Graphic Content Below

Akinwumi Adebola Bibi Funyal, photographer who covered the festival in 2009, is quoted as saying:

"I was assigned to film the festival. At first I seemed okay but when the killing started I suddenly found my knees shaking. In the beginning the butchers were able to cut the heads of the buffaloes in one stroke. Later they seemed to get into a frenzy and did not kill properly. I would take them a long time to severe the heads. The buffaloes were mooing – it was a terrible sound. The babies were searching for their mothers, not understanding what was going. At some point a baby buffalo came up to me and it touched my tripod. That was when I felt I would be passing out if I continued filming. When I left the place I had to step over thousands of bodies and heads and wade through animal blood. It was something I will never do again, even if they offer me an award."

The Gadhimai festival must never take place again, and it is up to us as a species to stop those entrenched in ignorance from ever carrying it out. The details of this holocaust must be spread worldwide to make all aware of this atrocity.