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
"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
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
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)