10/08/2016, 15.50
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Kathmandu: Hindus and Buddhists against ‘black festivals", i.e. the animal slaughter at Dashain

by Christopher Sharma

Hundreds of people protest in front of the temples where Hindus sacrifice oxen, sheep, goats, and birds to the gods. The Dashain festival commemorates the gods’ great victory over wicked demons. For vegetarians, only “Pope Francis [. . .] is very serious in making appeals on behalf of the environment and animals”.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Hindus and Buddhists are protesting against the killing of animals during the Hindu festival of Dashain.

The 15-day event, which began on 1st October, is the most important Nepali Hindu celebration as it commemorates the god’s great victory over wicked demons in a battle of Ramayan.

According to tradition, on the eighth, ninth and tenth day of Dashain, each temple sacrifices hundreds of animals to pay homage to the gods, but also to avoid their destructive wrath. The blood of buffaloes, oxen, sheep, goats, and birds pours down the stairs of the religious buildings.

This year however, the practice has come under greater criticism from many Hindus and Buddhists who call on devotees not to make the sacrifices.

Rajan Pandey, 28, has demonstrated in front of the Maitidevi temple. "The Earth is the common home of humans and animals. Slaughtering beasts and birds in the name of tradition is unjust and Hindus must challenge their tradition."

Here at the temple, he noted, "we warn all Hindu faithful and we stop animals from being taken into the building because they too have rights".

The Nepali Vegetarian Association, which has joined the protest, describes such animal killing to please the gods as "black festivals".

"We carefully read all the news coming from religious leaders,” said Gokul Sharma, the association’s spokesperson. “Pope Francis, for example, is very serious in making appeals on behalf of the environment and animals. Instead, we have not heard anything like that from Hindu leaders, who have a chronic problem with their tradition. "

Karma Lama, a Buddhist leader, agrees. "Our basic idea is peace and non-violence. For this reason, we strongly condemn the Hindu tradition of animal slaughter."

"We take seriously such concerns,” said Narahari Nath Acharya, a senior Hindu leader, reacting to the criticism. “However, this is our tradition and Dashain starts with animal offerings to the god and the divinities. We cannot stop this all at once, but we can review the tradition in due course."

“We encourage the faithful,” he added, "to offer fresh coconuts as a tribute to the gods, instead of killing animals. [This year,] The number of animals killed is lower than in the past. "

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