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Nepal Seeks To Stop Sacrifices at Festival on Thursday

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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, September 29, 2011 (The Peninsula of Quatar): As the former Hindu kingdom of Nepal started observing its biggest Hindu festival yesterday, the new government’s austerity measures and a dogged campaign by animal right activists will see a drop in animal and bird sacrifices, a tradition that has been frequently condemned by the outside world.

The 15-day Dashain festival, corresponding to India’s Durga Puja and Dussehra, the worship of Hindu power goddess Durga, sees pools of blood forming in Nepal’s temples as devotees sacrifice buffaloes, goats, chickens and other birds.

This Dashain, Animal Welfare Network Nepal, a grouping of animal right organisations, led the first “sacrifice” at the Bhadrakali temple in Kathmandu yesterday when a campaigner, dressed as Kali, the Goddess in whose name most of the slaughter is conducted, accepted, instead of butchered animals, the more benign offering of gourds and fruits. For several years now, the Network has been asking the pro-sacrifice group to continue with the tradition but “slaughter” pumpkins and gourds instead of hapless birds and animals.

The state-run Gorkhapatra daily said the chief of the Archaeological Survey of Nepal, Bishnuraj Karki, had said that from this year, with the new Maoist government slashing budgets for non-essential expenditure, instead of animals, vegetables would be offered. Even if the government agrees to stop the wanton killings, the private trusts that administer many of the temples are not likely to stop the practice. They spend over NRS 10 million every Dashain on animal sacrifices (USD 125,000).

[HPI note: This tradition is highly controvesial among Hindus. Last year, the Hindu American Foundation spoke strongly against it, and it goes against the foremost Hindu practice, ahimsa. However, for comparison: 8,855,900,000 animals are slaughtered in America per year (USDA, 2000 figures), which makes a higher killing rate per hour than Nepal’s whole slaughter — and it lasts all year long.]

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