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Animal Sacrifice by Hindus at Gadhimai Fair in Nepal – Thoughts and Reactions

Gadhimai Fair in Nepal is dedicated to Goddess Gadhimai, a local deity, an incarnation of Goddess Shakti. The fair, notorious for the sacrifice of large number of animals, is held once in five years in the Bara District of Nepal and is mainly attended by people from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in India. This year the Gadhimai festival has garnered lot of international media attention - the number of animal sacrificed is estimated to be more than 100,000.

Animal sacrifice is cruel and it has no place in the teachings of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). But Hinduism is not based on strict written codes or rules. Therefore each individual is given the freedom to express his/her faith. Some individuals try to appease deities through animal sacrifice which is part of tantric worship. Quite often an individual performs animal sacrifice out of ignorance thinking that the deity will be pleased with the sacrifice. This is the result of the lack of proper understanding of the teachings of Hinduism.

Who is to be blamed?

It is easy to blame the animal sacrificing Hindu as uneducated, superstitious believing in witchcraft and tantrics. Educated Hindus impatiently tries to distance from such events and talk loftily about Yoga, Upanishads and the scientific achievements of ancient Hindus.

The real culprits here are educated Hindus, modern day Hindu Gurus and Saints, Hindu leaders, Hindu organizations and the government. Majority of the Gurus and Saints are only interested in working among the middle class and the rich. The Gurus go all the way to talk about Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita in United States and Europe but never venture into the rural areas of India where there is no electricity and proper educational facilities.

Only a few Hindu organizations work in rural India. Majority of the organizations are often confined to a particular caste or area. A pan-India outlook for the development of the Hindu community as a whole is missing in majority of the organizations.

Majority of the Hindu political leaders are sadly confined to a particular region or reduced to the status of caste leaders. It is a well known fact that majority of the leaders are not interested beyond developing their family wealth. It is time for Hindus in India to select a strong Hindu leader with a pan-India outlook.

It is for educated Hindus to come together and make sure that the money they contribute to the Gurus and Saints should be spend on spreading the true teachings of Hinduism among the rural community in India. They should make sure that the money they donate are used in building educational facilities in rural India to help Hindus.

The state governments which control the wealth of Hindu temples in India should spend the wealth on the welfare of Hindus especially on education of Hindus in rural areas plus providing electricity, good roads and modern communication means.

You can never blame a Hindu who goes to sacrifice an animal for personal wish fulfillment or as a thanksgiving for his/her prayers heard. Because he/she comes from areas in India where there is no electricity, no proper roads and not even good water to drink. His sole refuge is in a local deity who can be appeased with his personal wealth and that is quite often his domesticated animals.