Over 250, 000 animals butchered in bizarre festival

Despite several protests from various animal right advocacy groups, the festival still went ahead with participating Hindus killing over 250, 000 animals.

Over 250,000 buffaloes, birds and goats were killed over a two day-day festival in Nepal to celebrate the Hindu goddess.

The ritual sacrifice of goats, buffaloes and roosters in temples and at home is widespread in Nepal where 80 percent of the population are Hindu.

In what is thought to be the world’s largest sacrificial slaughter of animals, millions of pilgrims from adjoining districts and also from the bordering Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh flocked to the temple of Gahimai, the goddess of power in  the village of Bariyarpur near the border with India.

The event begun on Friday at dawn with the ceremonial "pancha bali", when a rat, goat, rooster, pig and pigeon were sacrificed; around 5,000 buffaloes were then beheaded after being held in an open-air pen.

Thousands more animals were killed before the festival ended on Sunday, November 30, with their heads buried in a huge pit. Hides and skins will be sold to local traders.

Officials estimate that up to 10,000 buffalo calves and 150,000 goats were offered to Gadhimai -- the goddess of power -- during the ritual.

But these numbers were much lower than those of 2009, the last time the five-yearly Gadhimai festival held due to protests from animal right advocacy groups like Animal protection groups Humane Society International/India (HSI), People for Animals and Animal Welfare Network Nepal.

The Government of Nepal and the Gadhimai Temple have been strongly criticized for failing to stop the sacrifice of tens of thousands of animals at festival, despite a legal and moral obligation to act.

N G Jayasimha, managing director, HSI/India, said: "We are extremely disappointed with the way the temple trust and the Government of Nepal let the massacre of animals continue despite their vow. While it is of great solace that we were able to significantly reduce the number of animals killed , this week it has been very difficult as we witnessed the hacking to death of thousands of buffaloes, young goats and even pigeons ."

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