Kathmandu, Dec 1: India's animal export restrictions has led to a sharp decline of 75 per cent in the number of buffaloes getting slaughtered this year at Nepal's Gadhimai festival, a mass animal sacrifice ritual held once in five years.
Over 2.5 million worshippers from India and Nepal visited the holy religious shrine for offering prayers within the past one month, according to local authorities. The devotees sacrificed buffaloes, goats, pigeons and rats to the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai, on Friday and Saturday, in a ritual held every five years.
The event took place despite mounting pressure from animal rights groups. Five years ago, the number of animals and birds sacrificed in the temple was estimated to be 200,000 but this time it has sharply declined due to campaign by various rights groups, said Uttam Kafle of Animal Nepal, an organisation advocating for the animal rights in the country.
There has been a decline of 75 per cent in the number of buffaloes getting slaughtered this year. "Some 5,000 buffaloes were sacrificed, which was a sharp fall as compared to 20,000 buffaloes sacrificed in 2009," he said.
The festival took place in Bariyapur near Nepal-India border, where the animals had their heads chopped off or throats slit at to please the Goddess Gadhimai. India's Supreme Court had recently ordered the government to stop the export of cattle to Nepal during the Gadhimai festival.
The Animal Nepal has staged a rally in Kathmandu against the animal sacrifices in Gadhimai and elsewhere in the country. More than 200 rights activists took part in the rally carrying placards that reads "stop animal sacrifice in temples. " We have organised rallies in Kathmandu and other parts of the country to sensitise the people and to show protest to animal sacrifices in the temples, said the organisers.