A Hindu temple in Nepal has banned the sacrifice of animals as offerings at the traditional Gadhimai festival.
Taking place every five years for two and a half centuries at the Gadhimai Temple in Nepal, the festival brings in thousands of pilgrims that slaughter animals in hopes it will bring them well-being and prosperity. This year, however, the temple has put a stop to the needless killing.
“For generations, pilgrims have sacrificed animals to the Goddess Gadhimai, in the hope of a better life,” said Ram Chandra Shah, chairman of the Gadhimai Temple Trust. “The time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration.”
In 2009, approximately 500,000 buffalos, goats, chickens and other animals were sacrificed for the festival.
The temple stated is was “motivated” by animal rights advocates who made their disagreement with the practice very clear to them.
In 2014, animal rights activists petitioned the Supreme Court of India, where many pilgrims come from, to stop allowing the export of animals from the country into Nepal for slaughter at the festival. The court, which banned animal sacrifices within the country that year, then ordered the government to stop the export of all animals without a license and as a result, the number of animals killed at the festival was significantly lower than years before.
The goal for the next festival in 2019 is to bring that number to zero.
“This is a tremendous victory for compassion that will save the lives of countless animals,” said Gauri Maulekhi, a consultant for the Indian office of Humane Society International. “We commend the temple committee but acknowledge that a huge task lies ahead of us in educating the public so that they are fully aware.”