Thursday April 25, 2019

An end to barbarism: Ban on animal slaughter in Nepal

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Picture credit: intoday.in

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.

Picture credit: cultofthedeadfish.blogspot.com
Picture credit: cultofthedeadfish.blogspot.com

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.

Picture credit: themalaysianinsider.com
Picture credit: themalaysianinsider.com

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.

Picture credit: animalrecoverymission.org
Picture credit: animalrecoverymission.org

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.

Picture credit: aljazeera.com
Picture credit: aljazeera.com

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.

 

Next Story

Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)