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200,000 Animals Die in Mass Sacrifice to Hindu Goddess and A Healing Tip From Nepal

BARIYAPUR, Nepal (AP) — The ceremony began with prayers in a temple by tens of thousands of Hindus before dawn Tuesday. Then it shifted to a nearby corral, where in the cold morning mist, scores of butchers wielding curved swords began slaughtering buffalo calves by hacking off their heads.
Over two days, 200,000 buffaloes, goats, chickens and pigeons will be killed as part of a blood-soaked festival held every five years to honor Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power.

Sound crazy? Clearly to the author of the article it does, as he describes the “blood-soaked festival”. But how many turkeys died to honor Thanksgiving? In a country of 300,000,000, the answer is a far bigger number. I am not a vegetarian, at least not full time, though I rarely eat meat except on Shabbat, holidays, and special occasions. So this is not about the fact that all meat is murder and a pox on all those who think otherwise.
I am actually more intrigued by the way in which the same amount of butchery feels reasonable when it occurs in the context of a tradition with which we are comfortable, but seems barbaric when it does not.


In fact, the real story behind this story is that the offering of animals, whether upon a formal altar or upon the altar of our family table (a transformation for which we can be grateful to Talmudic sages of 2,000 years past — Berakhot 55a) is a powerful expression of gratitude and connection. While it may not be the only, or even the best way to express such things, it is a way of doing so, and this Thanksgiving it also connects us to millions of people half a world away.
Who will be far from you this Thanksgiving, and how could you connect even if you are not physically together over the holiday? What can we do to bridge the gaps in our lives, whether with estranged family and friends, or with members of other communities which seem so different from our own?
Thanksgiving not only creates tensions by virtue of putting us together with those who we might not otherwise want to spend so much time. But it also creates an opportunity to acknowledge that while such folks annoy us or their actions disturb us, we probably share more than we first appreciate. Knowing that will not make everything perfect, but it does create the context in which to reach out to those near and far, do a bit of repair and restoration work on the relationships in our lives. That opportunity is surely one for which we can all be thankful.

  • Your Name

    I find the slaughter of animals to glorify God quite disturbing. I am equally disturbed by the horrific treatment of food animals, both during the time they are “at the farm” and later, at the slaughterhouse. Kosher or non-kosher, too many abuses have been documented. Because of this, I have chosen to refrain from purchasing or cooking meat, except that which I buy for my dog. I do use dairy products and eggs; I prefer to buy “free-range” eggs and I wish I could be sure my dairy products came from dairies in which the cattle are treated humanely. Of course, as we know, such products are sometimes prohibitively expensive for those of us on a tight budget.
    I would consider going vegan except that I can tolerate soy products or beans only in small ammounts. It makes it difficult to get enough protein if I further limit my diet so I use dairy and occasionally eat fish.
    We eat Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, avowed meat-eaters. The compromise we have made is that my mother purchases a free-range turkey. It still bothers me a bit but I don’t want to cause a family explosion.
    I wish we could ensure the humane treatment of animals intended for food. Unfortunately, with “factory farming” this is difficult. I also suspect that those who spend their days doing nothing but killing animals become hardened and no longer see the creatures as living beings. So, abusing them means nothing. It is really sad.

  • tulip

    None of the reports mention that it is 200,000 animals killed once in 5 years, and this is the only time most of these poor people ever actually get to meat. Compared to that, consumption of meat in US is mind boggling.

  • Robert

    I’m just glad the practice of Judaism has never involved sacrificing animals….


    Thanks Robert!

  • froggy57

    The slaughter of animals is barbaric.
    There is something fundamentally wrong
    with a culture or religion that engages
    in the mass slaughter of innocents.
    But then, the human race is insane, and
    always has been.

  • Aviel

    Excuse me Robert…
    What do you think the Temple Sacrifices were… Air and water?

  • asha

    I’m a vegetarian, and find this festival to be as barbaric as the meat-industrial-complex of the west. One of the criticisms of the western slaughterhouses is that the animals are often killed slowly, clumsily; imagine how much worse when a bunch of amateur butchers decided they want to participate in an orgy of mass, public buffalo slaughter. It is disgusting, and all you have to do is watch the videos to see the suffering of the poor animals. There are many of us who campaign tirelessly against any form of brutality against animals, no matter in which culture or tradition it is embedded.

  • asha

    more on the orgy of blood at the Gadhimai temple:
    and the photographer rightly compares this with the brutality of feedlots in the american west:
    “Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.”

  • Michael

    I believe Robert was actually pointing to the fact that animal sacrifices IS a part of our past, and of our future. When the Temple is rebuilt, we will be expected to get back to the rules outlined in the Torah. I wonder how many animals will be killed then? I’m not saying I won’t do it too; I’m just wondering how we will stack up against this story?

  • joe

    Equating animal life with human life is insane. Animals were placed on earth to serve us and part of that service is that they are to provide their bodies for food and it just so happens that turkies make very good food. But now we will have the looney left trying to ruin Thanksgiving for all of us by telling us we are murderers because we eat turkey.
    I suppose we should also not kill rats because they might feel pain when killed. Does a rat trap kill instantly. Should we give up getting high quality protein from turkey because the turkey may feel an instant of pain when its head is chopped off. You can argue against Big Agra with overcrowded,inhumane conditions for turkies, but saying give it up because you equate turkey with human life is total insanity and a form of terrorism.

  • joe

    Wow, I’m surprised “acclained Hindu statesman” and self-appointed Hindu pope wasn’t there to pardon the animals like his hero Obama pardoned the turkey. What? There weren’t enough cameras around?

  • Aishwarya Singh

    OKAY, HOLD UP!!!
    this is totally whack yo, ive been a vege for 15 years, as WELL AS A HINDU, and this is something totally unrelative to the beliefs of hindu religion, and for ANYONE to compare this idiocy to the the hindu religion is an insult to my face. Hindus believe that animls have a right to live, so shut up joe. IN YOUR FACE. and to bring up any random “sacrifice” being made under the pretense of being hindu, AND HAVING SOME IDIOT WRITE UP A DUMB ARTICLE IS BEYOND STUPID. i mean do you know how hypocritical you all sound right now? so shut up and stop dissing on those who are better then you.
    hari om :)
    oh btw joe, OBAMA KICKS YOUR BUTT

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