Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Many young Nepalis want the government and Hindus to stop slaughtering of thousands of animals during the annual festival of Dashain. For Khil Prasad Ghimire, president of Shri Krishna Pranami Youth Council, "In the name of Dashain, the government is doing business by selling and supplying animals for sacrifices." According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 29,000 live sheep, 370,400 live goats and 59,810 live buffaloes were imported last fiscal year, most of them during the festival.
Dashain is the most important and extravagant of Hindu celebrations. According to tradition, during the ten-day celebration, buffaloes, goats, chicken and sheep are slaughtered and sacrificed to Hindu divinities, especially Durga, the Hindu goddess of war who incarnates creation and destruction.
"We are not against Dashain celebration," Ghimire said. "We are however against animal slaughtering practices that show inhumane acts in the name of religion."
Govinda Tondon agrees. For the senior Hindu cultural expert, "such animal slaughter not only divides Hindus, but discredits the religion itself."
This year, traders sold some 70,000 goats, 20,000 more than last year. In addition, some 16,000 sheep were imported for the occasion.
According to government figures, Nepal imports NPR 15 billion (US$ 180 million) worth of meat per year. During Dashain, more than 60 per cent comes from India.
Many Hindu experts have slammed such "inhumane" practices, blaming them for the declining number of Hindus in the country.
According to the country's 2001 census, Hindus represented 80.82 per cent of the population. Early estimates for the 2011 census indicate that they are only 67 per cent.