Stop world's largest animal killing fair in Nepal: Activists

Stop world's largest animal killing fair in Nepal: Activists

"By perpetuating such a mass massacre in the name of religion, culture and tradition in the 21st century, we are projecting Nepal as a barbaric country," said Pramada Shah, whose Animal Welfare Network Nepal is campaigning with animal rights organisations in Nepal, India and the West to pressure Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal into stopping the Gadhimai Fair.

The fair is held every five years at Bara district in southern Nepal and sees Hindus assembling from Nepal and India to sacrifice birds and animals for two days in the hope their prayers will be granted.

It is the world's biggest wanton killing of birds and beasts with the carcasses not allowed to be consumed but either being buried or lying in the open in pools of blood for months.
Govinda Tandon, whose Stop Animal Sacrifices Alliance is taking part in the campaign, projected a horrifying picture of the killings.
"There are rivers of blood for months with carcasses lying everywhere," he said. "The grounds are dominated by vultures while the stench makes life miserable for people living nearby. The only people who benefit are the skin traders who come and bid for the pelts."

A petition signed by over 2,000 people is asking the prime minister to stop the killings, which they say are not condoned by any religion.
The campaigners are being supported by Indian animal rights organisations like People for Animals, Peta India and Beauty without Cruelty.

Noted animal rights activist and Indian MP Maneka Gandhi as well as the Brigitte Bardot Foundation founded by the celebrated French actress have also joined the campaign.
"Many people in Nepal and the subcontinent are concerned about this sacrifice," Gandhi wrote in her letter to the Nepal prime minister. "Your government has taken so many humane steps - banning the export of monkeys, for instance.
"Since you have introduced the Meat Act, which makes the humane killing of animals mandatory, these acts during the Gadhimai Festival would be illegal."
The campaigners are hoping that Maneka Gandhi will arrive in Nepal to throw greater weight behind the campaign.

Even government officials are urging for state intervention, pointing out the fallouts of such mass killings.
"During the 1995 fair, the PPR (peste des petits ruminants), a disease found among sheep and goats, entered Nepal and created havoc," said Prabhakar Pathak, director-general at the state department of animal livestock services.

"The government has spent millions of rupees to stop the spread of the disease but it has pervaded all the 75 districts, including the Himalayan regions."
Pathak said most of the animals meant for sacrifice are brought illegally from across India, bypassing quarantine posts and regulations.
"There is a high danger of bird flu as well as brucellosis, which can be contracted by humans and causes sterility," he said.

However, the priests at the Gadhimai Temple and the organisers have vowed not to stop the killings, saying it was a religious necessity. They have also said this year at least 500,000 birds and animals will be killed, including 25,000 buffalos.
The campaign against the killings has received support from Nepal's 'Buddha Boy', the teenager in Bara district who became known worldwide four years ago when he began meditating in the forest, reportedly without food and water.
"Ram Bahadur Bomjan, who has been meditating in Bara for nearly five years now, is disturbed at the thought of such mass killings in the neighbourhood," said D.B. Bomjan, a prominent Buddhist banker who is part of the committee formed to facilitate the boy's meditation.

"He has appealed to the administration of Bara and the temple authorities to stop the killings. He will also ask the pilgrims arriving at the fair not to go ahead with the sacrifices.
"In the past, we had the tradition of the sati," said Shah. "But that was stopped. We are not against religion or tradition, only blind superstition."   

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