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Nepal sacrifices over 700 animals on Buddha birth anniversary

Tuesday May 17, 2011 05:51:50 PM, Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu: As Nepal's government awarded the first international award constituted to honour Gautam Buddha, the apostle of peace and non-violence, and peace rallies countrywide celebrated the icon's 2,555th birth anniversary, outraged animal rights activists said over 700 animals had been sacrificed Tuesday by clans flouting a tacit ban on animal killings on the day.

The Animal Welfare Network Nepal, an animal rights organization campaigning to stop animal and bird sacrifices in the name of religion, said communities once engaged as warriors had held clan worship in at least three places in Kathmandu Tuesday killing over 700 animals.

"Nepal in the past banned blood sacrifices on Buddha's birthday," said Pramada Shah, president of the network. "As a sign of respect to the Buddha's teachings and his followers, the government should re-introduce this decision. We urge the various clans to replace their annual rituals by vegetarian offerings."

The group said the warrior clans organised kul pujas - traditional worship by clans - in places such as Hatiban, Thankot and Lamatar, with each clan sacrificing around 100 goats. It estimated that over 700 animals were killed.

"Killing innocent beings in the name of god does not make sense, and doing so on the day when Buddha's birthday is being widely celebrated makes blood sacrifices even more controversial," Shah said.

In the 1950s, the then king Mahendra, father of deposed king Gyanendra, had decreed a ban on blood sacrifices and also ordered the closure of meat and alcohol shops on Buddha Jayanti to honour the Buddha's precepts against taking life and clouding one's mind.

"This declaration is displayed on a stone pillar in Lumbini, and still observed to a large degree throughout Nepal," Shah said. "(But) Kathmandu Valley (was) the exception.

Though Nepal, the only Hindu kingdom in the world, became secular in 2006, the government continues to support and fund animal sacrifices during Hindu festivals.

The national army remains one of the most avid followers of the practice despite its ranks including non-Hindus as well.

Nepal has been condemned by animal rights activists especially for its Gadimai Festival, a fair held every five years in southern Nepal that sees the highest number of bird and animal sacrifices ever.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at



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