Some Further Thoughts on Gadhimai

Sandra Mekita

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals has joined forces with other animal rights activists to petition the Nepalese government to stop the slaughter of a half a million animals during a “Gadhimai” festival on November 24th and 25th.  This festival is considered the world’s largest animal sacrifice. The animals slaughtered are generally: goats, buffaloes, ducks, roosters and pigeons.

The activists say that they are sensitive to the devotees needs but they feel that the sacrifice is unnecessary suffering. The Nepalese government is concerned about impinging on the sentiments of the devotees. (Sound familiar?)

Although, I, personally, don’t subscribe to organized religion, I have always been under the belief that exercising one’s own religious beliefs is essential to the traditions that this country is firmly grounded. However, religion is something that can be molded, changed, and broken down over time. Essentially, religions are adaptable. For example, the Vatican has come up with modern “sins” to keep the religion current and applicable to people in modern times.

Animal Sacrifice is a barbaric ritual, something used during the same time human sacrifice was being practiced. Animal sacrifice can be traced back to the Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Aztecs and the Yorubas. Many have banned this practice centuries ago.

Today, religions that still practice animal sacrifice are considering changing their practices without government intervention. Interestingly, in an article written in The Hindu, in 2003, the author discussed how animal sacrifice is a non-essential  practice for those following the Hindu religion. They say that simply because the government is not banning the practice does not mean that they should not and perhaps they could lead the way towards religious reform. In fact, the author pointed out that in the Bagavad Gita the “yajna” (“sacrifice”) does not mean the Vedic ritual of physical sacrifice but the dedication of someone’s spirit to ‘One Life’. From this perspective, he finishes the article by stating that when an animal is sacrificed it is the animal that has made the actual dedication to the religion, and not the slaughterer.

Until religions that perform these rituals take it upon themselves to change the way they worship, the government will continue to be hesitant in making any permanent changes in laws regarding the free exercise of religion.

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