For those who are unfamiliar, Gadhimai festival is celebrated every 5 years in Bara district, about 100 miles south of the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. It is generally attended by roughly 5 million pilgrims coming from all over Nepal and India, and is famed for its shockingly high volume of live animal sacrifice. Participants believe that animal sacrifices to the Hindu goddess Gadhimai will end evil and bring prosperity.
Dating back more than 250 years, the festival has drawn media attention in recent decades, culminating in huge efforts by animal welfare organisations working on the ground in Nepal to bring the needless cruelty to an end. We are proud to say that due to the tireless work of our member organisation Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, with the assistance of yet another AfA member Animal People Inc., the Supreme Court of Nepal has now reached a verdict in favour of ending live animal sacrifice at the festival.
At the most recent festival in 2014, there was controversy when the chairman of the Gadhimai Temple Management and Development Committee, Ram Chandra Shah, was quoted as saying: “The time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration”, following pressure from animal welfare groups such as JGI Nepal. Mr. Shah later retracted this sentiment, claiming to have been quoted “out of context”. When the dust settled, the big picture was that officials all agreed that the killing was cruel and needless, but they would have a hard time disseminating this information to 5 million pilgrims.
That is why JGI Nepal have been working ceaselessly for 11 years to appeal to top legal powers of Nepal to issue this ruling. Speaking in September 2019, JGIN spokesman Manoj Gautam was delighted with their victory, saying:
“The Supreme Court of Nepal has given a comprehensive order to the government of Nepal to systematically phase out and end all animal sacrifices in the country and that Jane Jane Goodall Institute Nepal is working with the government to make this upcoming festival a bloodless festival for the first time.”
“Today the Judgement Execution Directorate of the Supreme Court of Nepal together with Jane Goodall Institute Nepal organised the first ever public program where the Court’s verdict was made public and all the relevant government bodies including the law enforcement agencies were present. This was a historical moment. This program was done with the crucial support from Animal People. The momentum from today onwards will be huge in the ground and in the country in general. “