Monday March 19, 2018

An end to barbarism: Ban on animal slaughter in Nepal

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Nepal, Pakistan agree to revitalise Saarc process

Nepal and Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to revitalise the Saarc process for "greater peace, security and prosperity in the region"

  • Nepal and Pakistan agreed to revitalise Saarc
  • This is done to promote greater peace and security
  • It will be apparently beneficial for both the nations

Nepal and Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to revitalise the Saarc process for “greater peace, security and prosperity in the region” during talks that visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held with the Himalayan nation’s leadership.

Nepal and Pakistan to revitalise SAARC process. Wikimedia Commons
Nepal and Pakistan to revitalise SAARC process. Wikimedia Commons

Abbasi on Tuesday met Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari and addressed a programme at the Saarc Secretariat here. He also held a meeting with CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” in the morning.

Bhandari and Abbasi hoped to reinvigorate the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) as an important regional organisation. The Pakistani leader said that “issues of the countries in the region should not affect the activities of Saarc and its performance”.

He emphasised the need to make Saarc “more effective” in the days ahead. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in all areas of mutual importance, including political, economic, defence and cultural fields.

On Monday evening, Abbasi met his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli and both decided to revitalise the stalled Saarc process.

Also Read: India pulled out of SAARC meeting that is to be held in Pakistan

The Pakistani leader sought to host the 19th Saarc Summit of the regional grouping and asked Nepal to create a “favourable environment” for the same. The summit has been postponed since 2016 after a military attack on an Indian Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the attack, India unilaterally suspended its participation from the summit. Several member states rallied behind India’s position.

Nepal is the current chair of the regional grouping. Oli’s chief political advisor Bishnu Rimal said “both leaders held a common view on taking the Saarc forum ahead as it was a common platform for all member countries and still significant”.

The step is taken to improve relationships between the two countries.

Addressing a function at the Saarc Secretariat in Kathmandu, Abbasi said peace, security and mutual friendship were essential for the prosperity of South Asia.

“Pakistan has undivided belief in the Saarc objectives, ideologies and principles,” he said, adding that Islamabad was fully committed to the Saarc charter.

Abbasi also announced doubling the scholarships provided to Nepal by the Pakistan government and proposed to set up a joint parliamentary panel between Kathmandu and Islamabad. IANS