Religious or Secular: Animal Slaughter a Shame 

Washington, DC (November 27, 2009) - The Hindu American Foundation described the mass slaughter of animals at the Gadhimai Temple in Nepal, which began on November 24, 2009, as grotesque and nearly unrecognizable in the practice of mainstream Hinduism today.  This ritual, which local Nepalis organize every five years, is performed at a slaughterhouse near the temple, and thousands of buffaloes, goats and other animals are brought by local villagers to the area for slaughter.  Most of the impoverished and itinerant farmers that frequent the ceremony believe in witchcraft and black magic hoping that an animal sacrifice promises future success.  The ritual proceeded despite the protests of several animal rights activists in Nepal and India and was attended by the local Maoist politician representing the district.
 
"These marginal practices of animal slaughter are a relic of a violent and superstitious past that continue today largely because they are encouraged by a nexus of underworld gangs, bootleggers and politicians prospering by the selling of meat and animal hide to tanneries," said Ramesh Rao, PhD, the Foundation's human rights coordinator.  "We add our voices to the outrage and anguish that so many animals suffered in a dark ritual that also hoodwinked the local poor to sacrifice their livestock for cheap."  
 
While "yagna," the ritual of sacrifice in which oblations are offered to the Divine Agni (fire), is acknowledged by Hindus, and there are allusions in Hindu texts to the sacrifice of animals in ancient texts, Hinduism also unequivocally advocates the protection of all living beings seeing divinity in them.  Modern Hindus, making up the largest numbers of vegetarians in the world, therefore perform the fire sacrifice symbolically using grains, fruits, butter, etc., to propitiate various deities.
 
"It is unfortunate that the temple in Nepal still allows this feudal, anachronistic and bloody animal sacrifice whatever the local and religious lore," added Prof. Rao.  "Remembering that forty-five million turkeys were sacrificed this week for Thanksgiving alone, we hope that the world will join us in condemning the sanitized butchering of billions of animals for food with the same zeal that we condemn the orgiastic killings in Nepal in the name of religion."