Kathmandu : Animal-rights campaigners are hoping this year’s festival season in Nepal will be a little less bloody. During the 15-day Dasain festival that began this week in the Himalayan country, families fly kites, host feasts and visit temples, where tens of thousands of goats, buffaloes, chickens and ducks are sacrificed to please the gods and goddesses as part of a practice that dates back centuries. Animal rights groups are hoping to stop, or at least reduce, the slaughter, using this year’s campaign as a practice run to combat a much larger animal sacrifice set for next year at the quinquennial Gadhimai fest. Such a campaign is novel in Nepal, where four out of five people are Hindu and animal sacrifice is a deeply rooted tradition.
Activists first organised after the Gadhimai festival in 2009, when an estimated 250,000 animals were killed at a single temple in southern Nepal. Images of carcasses piled up on an open field were widely published and broadcast. Though there are no official data, fewer animals were believed to have been sacrificed at the subsequent Gadhimai fest in 2014. A campaigner Pramada Shah said. “We are very few campaigners but we have a very loud voice. We are a loud minority.” The number of buffalo sacrifices alone dropped from 20,000 in 2009 to 3,000 in 2014.