Kathmandu: Despite outcry from animal activists and protests on social media, a mass sacrifice of animals at the Gadhimai Festival happened in Nepal this week, the pictures of which have horrified people all over the world.

Known as ‘bloodiest festival of the world’, the event is devoted to the goddess Gadhima which takes place every five years and culminates with the ritual slaughter of tens of thousands of animals. Thousands of people who attended the two-day event on December 3 and 4, believe that animal sacrifices will please the goddess Gadhimai and bring them good fortune.

This year, at least 4,000 buffaloes, 50 per cent of which were brought from neighbouring India, and around 20,000 goats and chickens were sacrificed.

An estimated 500,000 goats, buffalo, pigeons and other animals were slaughtered in 2009, according to Humane Society International (HSI). Thankfully, that number dropped to about 30,000 in 2014, as per the NGO.

In 2015, the event’s organizers, Gadhimai Temple Trust, announced there would be no more animal sacrifices and in 2016, Nepal’s Supreme Court said it should be prohibited. The court called on the government to frame a law that would gradually bring an end to the sacrifices.

However, that wasn’t the case this year and people went ahead with the mass slaughter as planned.

”There is no justification for this mass killing, and it is truly heartbreaking to witness,” said Tanuja Basnet, director of the Nepal unit of Humane Society International, which has been fighting and launching awareness programs to end the brutal ritual.

The committee is also raising awareness among attendees, and encouraging people to bring flowers and sweets as offerings, instead of animals.

 

The Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal (FAWN) is now planning to sue the Nepal government and Maha Gadhimai Municipality Mayor in the Supreme Court for not stopping the mass sacrifice of animals.

According to the International Organisation for Animal Protection (IOAP), the mass sacrifice at Gadhimai Temple is said to be the cruelest form of animal slaughtering in public religious places.