The fair takes place over 48 hours. In that time, between 200,000-500,000 animals are killed. It's a veritable melee of violence. Men stand outside of the temple, purchasing alcohol and imbibing large quantities. They are armed with weapons and let loose upon penned up or tied down animals. The chaos turns the marshes surrounding the temple blood red (much like the Taiji harbor during the annual dolphin slaughter or any large slaughterhouse floor in America). One cannot help but wonder how this wanton destruction of other living beings releases anyone from anger - it is the embodiment of anger and destruction, this brutal reduction of animals to chopped up parts.
Blogging about this isn't easy. Nepal is far away, there are injustices perpetrated against animals in our own backyard. Still, it is hard not to imagine the terror and fear these animals experience. It is no different than what any animal experiences, no matter their location. I just cannot get out of my head the vision of drunken humans bearing down upon frightened, screaming buffaloes, goats, pigs, chickens, rats, pigeons...hacking, tearing, covering themselves in the blood and excrement of dying animals. It breaks my heart.
Maneka Gandhi wrote a brilliant and eloquent op-ed piece about this festival. She is certainly more of an expert on the region than I am - please read it. She explains how this is a festival of exploitation - of the animals, of women, of the participants.
Animal Nepal has campaigned to stop this bloodletting (there are a couple other events that are equally hideous, including the Khokana festival which involves throwing a 5-6 month old male goat into a pond and allowing 5-6 men to literally tear the goat apart. I mean, literally. It's disturbing). On the linked page are some tips for if you live in Nepal (which I am assuming most of the readers of this blog do not) and tips for those of us living outside of Nepal:
When you live outside Nepal:
- If you travel to Nepal please don't travel with tour companies who organise tours to temples where animals are sacrificed.
- While in Nepal rise the issue during your discussions with those you meet.
- In your own country if you meet any Nepalese or have Nepalese friends ask them what they are doing to stop animal sacrifices in Nepal.
- Please do write to the Nepalese Embassy in your country, to the Nepalese Government and Nepalese media to enact laws to stop these extreme practices.
Other stories on this subject:
Buddha Boy (Palden Dorje Tamang Rinpoche) will set up camp, bless the animals and try to peacefully stop the slaughter.
Animal Nepal's Petition you can sign