11/20/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Buddhists and animal rights activists against Hindu sacrifice to Gadhimai

by Kalpit Parajuli
In Bara district, where the ‘living Buddha’ meditates, more than a million Hindus are preparing to sacrifice half a million animals during the festival of Gadhimai Mela. Actress Brigitte Bardot wants the inhumane practice stopped. More than 12,000 police agents are mobilised for the occasion.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Buddhists and animal rights activists are protesting against the Hindu festival of  Gadhimai Mela in Bayapur, Bara district (southeastern Nepal). During the event, half a million animals will be slaughtered. More than a million Hindu pilgrims are expected to gather for the occasion on 25 November. Nepali authorities have deployed more than 12,000 police officers.

Gadhimai Mela is one of the most important festivities on the Hindu calendar and the largest sacrificial happening in the world. It usually lasts a week, ending on the third Friday of November.

During the celebrations, the faithful sacrifice animals like buffaloes, sheep and chickens in honour of the god Gadhimai. According to Hindu belief, such offerings reduce the god’s anger, and bring people luck and prosperity. 

However, Bara district is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. This is where Ram Bahadur Bomjan, known as the living reincarnation of the Buddha, meditates year round.

At present, hundreds of Buddhists and activists are praying with him to stop the animal sacrifice.

“The killing of animals in the name of sacrifice is the most serious crime. So it must be stopped immediately,” said Rinpoche Sange Rangjung, a Buddhist monk and protest leader. “In no religion are animal sacrifices prescribed”.

Demonstrators, who are backed by French actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot, are calling on the Nepali government to legislate in the matter to ban the practice in the future.  

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