By Sreyashi Mazumdar
Cracking down upon the 250-years-old bestial practice of mass animal slaughter on the auspicious occasion of Gandhimai festival in Nepal, the local government and the Gandhimai temple trust have finally belled the cat and have announced the decision of a permanent ban on animal slaughter for the forthcoming years. The decision has not only heralded the cause of animal rights but has also championed the supremacy of prudence over superstition and blind veneration.
The Gandhimai temple trust officials celebrated the decision, “a momentous celebration of life and free from bloodshed,” according to a report in the Huffington post. Despite being a tedious job to prohibit people from adopting such barbaric means in an attempt at pleasing God, the temple trust officials have reiterated their claim that 2019 will testify to a bloodless festivity.
Fending for the cause, Shri Ram Chandra Shah, Gandhimai temple trustee, said, “Our concern has been: How do we convince the people, so desperate for the favour of Goddess Gandhimai, that there is another way? How do we bring them on our journey,” as quoted in The Huffington Post.
The festival which seems to connote barbarism and inhumanity on its face value started off with a Bariyarpur’s farmer giving in to his blind faith in Goddess Gandhimai. According to a report in the Guardian, the festival started off 250-years-ago. One Bhagwan Choudhary, a farmer who was sent behind the bars after being accused of theft, prayed to Goddess Gandhimai for his release.
Later on, the poor fellow dreamt of the Goddess, who apparently asked him to re-establish her shrine which had been shifted to some other place. Further, she also conveyed that the re-establishment should be preceded by animal slaughter. On being released the next day, Choudhary, according to the Goddess’s decree, slaughtered animals in the backwaters of Tarai and finally giving way to an age-old festival.
According to reports, the revelry till this date has testified to the presence of a million thronging the Himalayan country from across the border, especially from UP and Bihar. In the year 2009, around 500,000 buffaloes, goats, chickens and other animals were decapitated. However, the number plummeted in the year 2014, the numbers decreased by 70 percent.
The decrease in the numbers was witnessed in the wake of an order rolled out by the Supreme Court in the year 2014. The apex court had ordained a complete ban on the movement of animals from India to Nepal in an attempt at putting an end to the hideous practice.
According to a report in the Humane Society International India, Justice kehar conceded to the cruelty endorsed during the festival. He further added that 70 percent of the animals slaughtered during the festival were from India.
“It has been a long effort …we took a firm stand and it has finally worked,” said Manoj Gautam, president of Animal Nepal Welfare Network, as quoted in a Hindustan Times report.
The efforts to ban animal slaughter also garnered support from stalwarts like British actress Joanna Lumley and the legendary French artist Brigitte Bardot.
Despite being often portrayed as cannibalistic, owing to the relentless killings and vociferous protests put up by the animal rights activists, Gandhimai festival isn’t essentially about incessant butchery. The festival exemplifies unison of colors, emotions and sounds. It exudes an essence of togetherness that the locales nibble on.
“It reflected a culture that prevails in the Nepalese and Indian plains, where you don’t have much by way of entertainment, so people flock to the fair for much-needed relief from everyday hardship,” ruminated Basanta Basnet, a Kathmandu-based journalist, as quoted in the Guardian.
The new found development gaming for a bloodless revelry would inevitably add on to the sanctity of the festival. Even though it has juddered the faith or irrationality borne by the people, it will soon harmonize the differing opinions, recuperating the forlorn humanity.