Nepal and India: Saving animals from the Gadhimai sacrifice, part one


By Sharon St Joan

In the late November cold, teams from Chennai and other Indian cities are camping out in the open along the Nepal/India border. They are there to stop as many animals as possible from crossing the border to become part of the horrifying scene of sacrifice during the Gadhimai Festival that takes place every five years, and which is due to happen on November 28 and 29, Friday and Saturday, of this week.

These brave volunteers work with the police and border authorities. The teams patrol between the police stations and border posts. They are not allowed to stop any cattle. Instead, they can observe and take photos and video, recording what they see. They report to the police any violations or any animals they see from India crossing the border. They will collect evidence.

In many places, the border crossings are three to five kilometers apart, so it can be easy for people smuggling animals to slip unseen past the border guards. The Nepal/India border is a remote area where conditions are harsh.

The police can confiscate or turn back animals being exported illegally. So far, hundreds of cattle have already been turned back from the border by the police, following tips from the animal advocates.

The Supreme Court of India intervenes


A suit related to Gadhimai was filed with the Supreme Court, in Delhi, by Gauri Mauleki, Trustee of PFA Uttarakhand (People for Animals – Uttarakhand) and Consultant to Humane Society International. On October 17, the Supreme Court issued a directive that all illegal movement of animals across the Indian border into Nepal, for the sacrifice at the Gadhimai festival, must be stopped by the police and the border patrol. Animals will not be allowed to be taken across the border.

Notices were sent out to federal authorities and to the border states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal to stop the flow of animals into Nepal. Around 70% of the animals sacrificed come from India so this is expected to greatly diminish the numbers of animals killed. Animal sacrifice is illegal in India.

In the past, although export of cattle and buffalo required a license, this requirement was simply ignored. Now, with the presence of so many volunteers assisting the police and documenting the movement of animals, the police cannot turn a blind eye, and action will be taken.

In issuing the ruling, Justice Kehar of the Supreme Court of India noted that the Gadhimai animal sacrifice is “demeaning and cruel.”

Brave volunteers

Major funding for this effort has been very generously donated by Kim Bartlett of Animal People News.

Dr. Chinny Krishna, Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India and Chairman Emeritus of Blue Cross of India, played a direct role in bringing together teams going to help along the border.


Fourteen volunteers from Blue Cross of India have gone, including Dawn Williams, Blue Cross’s General Manager, who regularly leads rescue teams on daring and difficult rescues in Chennai. More volunteers will join them over the next few days. Altogether, 25 volunteers from Chennai are in the field, from Blue Cross and FIAPO, bringing eight motorcycles with them. All-wheel-drive vehicles have been hired in Bihar.

They traveled by train. It’s a long trip from Chennai – 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles). TVS Motors donated two of the motorcycles.

When there was a snag getting the motorcycles on the same train as the volunteers, the office of Maneka Gandhi, of People for Animals, and a senior Minister in the Union Government, intervened, and all was soon resolved.

Because of the extremely primitive conditions along the border, the initial thought of Blue Cross was that only men should go. This was met by charges of sexism, so the decision was reviewed, and it was announced that women are welcome to participate. Three women from Hyderabad are taking part, and part of their expenses are being paid by Blue Cross.

Another team has been sent to the Uttar Pradesh/Nepal border.


dawnreport one photo five1-1edited

“A financial aspect”

Speaking about the horrifying sacrifice of around 500,000 animals, which takes place in Bara, Nepal, around 100 miles south of Kathmandu, Dr. Chinny Krishna commented, “There is always a financial aspect.” The remains of the sacrificed animals; cattle, buffaloes, goats, pigeons, chickens, and rats, are already contracted to be sold to a Chinese company.

The festival was started in modern times, about a hundred years ago, by a man who was a convicted felon. Today, his grandson is the chief priest of the Gadhimai temple. This is the largest single sacrifice of animals anywhere in the world. Virtually every temple in Nepal does some animal sacrifice. The only one that does not is Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu which was founded by Adi Shankara, one of the greatest of all Hindu saints, who lived in the eighth century BCE and who was a strict proponent of the Hindu vegetarian tradition. The priests of Pashupatinath come from the south of India and would never perform any animal sacrifice.

Animal sacrifice is no more a part of Hinduism than witch burning is a part of Christianity. There are fanatics in every religion who propagate false teachings of violence and hatred.

Continued in part two. For part two, click here.


Photos: Courtesy of Blue Cross of India


To visit the website of Blue Cross of India, click here.


For the website of Humane Society International – India, click here


For the website of PFA-Uttarakhand, click here.  


For the website of Animal Welfare Network Nepal, click here.

9 thoughts on “Nepal and India: Saving animals from the Gadhimai sacrifice, part one

  1. ItS not enough that YALL abuse all animals bring children in this world to suffer but u starve these poor animals beat them their so sick they barley can walk cause of the abuse & this is what their life means to all makes me sick & u wonder why more don’t help this is why I’m not funding for them to have a precious healthy animal & this is what happens in the end I have morals & a concense makes me sick I’m tired of seeing this abuse to all life all over the world & people call YALL people that YALL are suffering that may b true but not to me they hurt bleed have feelings u tell me they don’t when I look out my window & watch mine run buck play fat happy healthy I’m done this just pisses me off on so many levels

  2. When there is a blatant disregard for any life form then you will have a problem with violence. Teach children from a young age that all life matters … the life of a caterpillar means as much to it and your life means to you. That being said I think Nepalese officials need to take a serious stance on taking measures to eradicate the pathetic Gadhimai Festival that will rear its ugly, barbaric head tomorrow and for the next two days cause a mass genocide of innocent, trembling animals all in the name of human bloodlust .. For all of my adult life I have wanted to visit Nepal. It had always pictured it as a magical and tranquil place …. secret and special … AND THEN BOOM…. all my dreams and desires to visit your country disintegrated in seconds when I heard about THE GADHIMAI FESTIVAL? You call mass genocide of countless numbers of voiceless, trembling, feeling beings a Festival? A FESTIVAL? A festival is an occasion of joy… an occasion of blessing… an occasion of giving … an occasion of beauty and merriment!!! … Tradition is the playground of evil and should be eradicated!!! We live in 2014 … we have supposedly evolved! How could we ever expect to see world peace when human beings refuse to give mercy to all other life forms that share this breathtaking planet with us. Teach your children to be kind to every living creature, every species whether it be human or animal … sow seeds of love and compassion and then the Karmic forces of the world will give back the same love and compassion. There is no excuse in these modern times for such barbarism. Religion is supposed to teach unity and peace (or so I thought) … but ironically all this tells me once again is that religion is just the greatest hypocrisy … it has nothing to do with your devotion to G-d or your gods, it is nothing more than a veil you hide behind to commit murder and suffering of magnanimous proportions… I beg and implore that whoever holds the power to stop this pathetic and brutal ritual slaughter will do so with immediate effect. My heart goes out to every single animal under the Nepalese skies and I pray to my G-d that over the next two days He will hasten their deaths as much as possible so as to lessen their suffering. I am devastated with sorrow and cannot believe that in such modern times such primitive behaviour is allowed and even worse CONDONED by the justice system of your country. Disgusted. [This comment has been edited.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s