By Sharon St Joan
To read part one first, click here.
Opposition to the sacrifice grows
In the months running up to the time of the Gadhimai sacrifice, there has been a growing and very vocal opposition to the sacrifice, worldwide.
Baba Ramdev, a popular spiritual leader in India with a huge following, has spoken out against the sacrifice.
Dr. Chinny Krishna expressed his conviction that “this Gadhimai festival will be the last one to include any animals from India,” adding that “this year, there will be a major dent at least in the numbers of cattle.”
Buffalos, pigeons, goats, sheep, and chickens are also sacrificed. It is harder to catch and prevent the smaller ones from crossing the border.
On another level
There have been no shortage of contacts with the Chief Priest of the Gadhimai Temple and with the Nepalese government, and these continue.
Rudra Krishna, of Blue Cross, has written, “A team from HSI-India consisting of its Chair, Dr Nanditha Krishna, Alokparna Sengupta and N Jayasimha, Managing Director, are reaching Nepal on Monday Nov 24, along with Ms Gauri Maulekhi – Consultant to HSI (who has been in Nepal fighting this case for the last few months) in yet another attempt to persuade the temple authorities to abandon this killing. We wish them all the best and our prayers are with them and the hundreds of thousands of innocent animals.”
Nepalese animal advocates working “flat out”
The Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) has not rested over the past five years in their opposition to the sacrifice, spending time in the field, in the Bara District, where the Gadhimai Temple is, and also in meetings in Kathmandu.
They express their profound gratitude to those providing support, including Humane Society International, One Voice, Maneka Gandhi, Compassion in World Farming, Dr. Jane Goodall, Animal People, the Albert Schweizer Foundation, Jane Goodall Institute Australia, Philip Wollen and Geoff Knight.
AWNN is working with the Department of Livestock in Nepal to set up an Exclusion Zone around the temple to prevent illegal entry of sick animals, those without permits, and those being transported illegally. They have also organized a large team of volunteers to help out along the border.
They have met with everyone possible; the Nepalese Prime Minister, the President, the Secretary of State, and representatives of the United Nations. They have been assured that there will be no government support from the Nepal government for the sacrifice. However, as of this moment, the sacrifice is expected to be allowed to go ahead.
Among a great many other measures they are putting into place, AWNN has organized Children’s Protests “with children asking for their right to grow up in a society free from violence and bloodshed.” AWNN is also setting up preparations to encourage alternate offerings to the Goddess of lotus flowers, and at Gadhimai Temple, a lotus flower garden is being created.
AWNN states, “Every single life we can save is a victory, and we will not stop until we have saved as many as we can.”
With so many groups and individuals working so hard with such great courage and determination, there is a sense that the momentum is on the side of the light, not the darkness, and that the time is drawing near when it will no longer be possible for the cruelty of the Gadhimai Festival to continue in years to come.
Finally, a word for those in the U.S.
It is hard not to notice a certain irony in the fact that the days of the Gadhimai sacrifice, November 28 and 29, are preceded, by just one day, by Thanksgiving. When around 320 million Americans sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, for the vast majority, there will also be a sacrifice, the death of a bird. There is an unmistakable similarity. Turkeys suffer at length throughout their short lives, and they are killed in numbers of a far greater magnitude than all the animals at Gadhimai. Let us say a prayer for all these innocent animals, while we do all in our power to prevent the sacrifice of any animals, anywhere, for any purpose.
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.