Saturday, November 21, 2009

Culture Shock: Gadhimai Fair

Excerpt from The Economic Times

Kathmandu:  The most controversial (and centuries old) religious fair in Nepal's Terai plains, where thousands of birds and beasts are doomed to be slaughtered next week, has fallen into more disrepute with the death of four visitors, including an Indian..after consuming adulterated local moonshine while three other Nepali men died Friday...
The Gadhimai Fair, held every five years and drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from India and Nepal, has been one of the most controversial religious events in Nepal where, according to animal rights activists, commercial considerations drive the festivities.
Dozens of shops selling illegal local spirits have been set up on the fair ground to cater to the visitors, most of whom are poor and uneducated villagers from Nepal's Terai as well as the Indian states...The deaths come on the eve of mass slaughter of birds and beasts ...The temple authorities say 500,000 buffaloes, goats, chickens, pigeons, and other birds and beasts will be killed for two days.
They claim a slaughterhouse has been built at the cost of over RS 5 million to kill the animals and about 250 butchers have been hired. Nepal's government, struggling to survive in the face of new disruptions threatened by the former Maoist guerrillas, has refused to ban the slaughter despite warnings by animal experts that the massacre could trigger swine flu, bird flu and cattle diseases and gravely affect the environment.
(Many celebritites) urged the Nepal government to stop the slaughter, and the pleas have been disregarded for fear that a ban would inflame Hindu religious sentiments.
Animal rights activists from Nepal have also warned the government that the killings, which turn the fair into the "world's largest killing fields" - will adversely affect Nepal's image in the eyes of the world, projecting the Himalayan republic as a barbaric nation.

Excellent follow up story of one person's plea, and an explanation of how it got to this:

Picture source:

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