World's Largest Mass Animal Sacrifice: What Can You Do to Help?

The largest ritual animal sacrifice in the world is about to take place in Nepal at the Gadhimai festival—and activists are working hard to save as many creatures as they can. But what can you do to help?

The festival—devoted to the goddess Gadhimai—takes place every five years and culminates with the ritual slaughter of tens of thousands of animals.

In 2009, the killing peaked with an estimated 500,000 animals killed. However, due to the sustained efforts of local and international animal rights groups, this number fell significantly to around 30,000 in 2014.

In 2015, the Gadhimai Temple Trust announced that it was banning animal sacrifice at future festivals. However, it is now not clear whether the Trust will guarantee the ban when the festival culminates this year on December 3 and 4.

Furthermore, the ban only applied to the slaughter of buffalo within the temple arena itself. It does not apply to any killing which takes place outside the arena.

In recent times, Nepal's Supreme Court and several government ministries have all issued statements against the slaughter.

Now, campaigners are asking people to put pressure on the Temple to enforce the ban by signing and sharing urgent appeals addressed to the prime minister of Nepal, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli.

Humane Society International are one of those non profit's who have created an appeal which you can sign. Their letter reads:

"Dear Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Citizens like me from around the world are appalled at the mass animal suffering at Nepal's Gadhimai festival, where tens of thousands of animals are beheaded in a gruesome sacrifice to appease the goddess Gadhimai."

"Animal welfare and religious groups in Nepal and globally are united in their condemnation of this animal sacrifice. Nepal's own Supreme Court has issued a call to end the killing, and we are grateful that several of Nepal's government ministries have also spoken out against the sacrifice. We implore you to officially intervene to stop the animal sacrifice at Gadhimai and ban all animal sacrifices across Nepal," the letter reads.

Gadhimai festival Nepal
Every five years, the world’s largest animal sacrifice takes place at the Gadhimai Temple in Nepal. Kuni Takahashi/AP Images for HSI

Animal Equality has also launched an international campaign against the killing, which includes another petition to the government of Nepal. The petition urges the government to:

  • "Direct all agencies to prevent and stop animal sacrifice at the Gadhimai festival."
  • "Introduce a strong law banning animal sacrifice in Nepal."
  • "Encourage devotees to donate blood or have attendees symbolically sacrifice white pumpkins, gourds, etcetera, instead of sacrificing animals."

Another way you can help is by donating to international charities who are working on the ground to try and reduce the scale of the killing this year.

Humane Society International is collaborating with officials at the India-Nepal border who will be confiscating any animals passing into the country to be sacrificed. An estimated 70 percent of the animals slaughtered at the festival have been imported illegally across the Indian border.

They are also trying to raise awareness among attendees, encouraging people to bring flowers and sweets as offerings, instead of animals.

Animal Equality are also trying to raise awareness of the issue by encouraging attendees to give their own blood rather than kill animals.

"In an effort to discourage animal sacrifice and introduce a meaningful way for devotees observe the ritual peacefully, Animal Equality is collaborating with the Red Cross Society of Nepal to organize a blood donation drive," a statement from the non-profit read.

"Here, the devotees can give their own blood to take part in the ceremony honoring Gadhimai. Giving blood in this way will end the need for killing animals at the festival and remove the negativity that surrounds it. The act will also help other people by increasing the reserves of the blood bank," the statement read.

You can also donate to local organizations in India and Nepal who are working on this issue, such as People for Animals and the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal.

This article was updated to include the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal as one of the local non-profit's working on the ground.

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