While today is the largest consumption of turkeys in the year, Nepal still holds the record for the largest sacrifice of animals. This week Nepal will carry out the ritualistic slaughter of more than 250,000 animals as part of the blood sacrifice to Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power. Most of the killings occur at and around the Gadhimai temple of Bariyapur.
Every five years, animals are decapitated in order to guarantee that wishes will be granted for the next five years.
While animal rights activists have stepped up protests against the sacrifices, the festival has attracted a record crowd of Hindu faithful who brings animals for sacrifice. They believe, as stated by Manoj Shah, “If we want anything, and we come here with an offering to the goddess, within five years all our dreams will be fulfilled.” .
The blood letting begins at dawn with the sacrifice of two rats, two pigeons, a pig, a lamb and a rooster in the main temple before moving on to 10,000 buffalo. (The slaughter officially ended on November 25th though some celebration continues today).
The government supports the sacrifices and priests insist that it is a necessary ritual. Priest Chandan Dev Chaudhary, put it succinctly: “The goddess needs blood. Then that person can make his wishes come true.”
Just to cover my bets, I bought a fresh turkey this year and I have festooned my grill for Gadhimai.
For the photos (warning: graphic) of the sacrifices, click here.