Yesterday, Hindu worshippers have slaughtered thousands of buffalos as part of a religious ritual held every five years in southern Nepal, called Gadhimai.
That is despite that many activists were hopeful that this gruesome centuries-old ritual would end after the temple authorities had allegedly announced that the prior ritual, held in 2014, would be the last one, and after the Supreme Court of Nepal has reached a verdict in favor of ending the live animal sacrifice at the festival. But people want bloodshed.
The festival started with a revelation dream of an imprisoned feudal landlord in the 18th century, in which he realized that all he needs to do to solve all of his problems is to make a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. And ever since then tens of millions of humans have been “solving” their problems by creating ones for nonhumans.
The first ritual during Gadhimai festival is worship to the sacrificial weapons. Then the priests chant different hymns to appease the Goddess Gadhimai.
After the pre-sacrificial rituals, five different species are brought into the holy temple to be slaughtered. Their role in life is representing five mental obscurations of the human community such as anger, stupidity and desire.
The first animal to be sacrificed is a goat, then thousands of pigeons by severing their heads. Next, three wild rats are brought and sacrificed before a comb like pole.
Then about 200 people carrying swords and axes, frantically rush towards the temple’s field where more than 15,000 buffaloes are kept to be slaughtered. Those still alive, watch as their friends are being slaughtered, stepping in their blood, knowing what awaits them.
Later on that day and on the following day, about 200,000 animals would be killed in what is the biggest ceremony of animal sacrifice in the world.
This horrific festival attracts about 5 million people. With so many people coming to watch the world’s biggest sacrifice of animals at any one site, it is hard to be convinced by Paul McCartney’s famous quote: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian”
Among the pilgrims are many Indian Hindus who come to Nepal since in India, animal sacrifice is forbidden. Many of them drag animals to be slaughtered all the way from India which is, regardless of these pepped sacrificers, the biggest provider of animals for the festival. Most buffalos are transported from India in hard conditions with no water or food. Many die during this long journey from stress, exhaustion and dehydration.
Gadhimai is the world’s biggest one site sacrifice ritual in the world. But it is only one of many, probably hundreds of rituals and festivals, in which animals are sacrificed in various ways for humans’ various desires.
Many activists, us included, really believed that at least this lunatic ritual has finally ended after 250 years of massacres. But yesterday all of us found out that it didn’t. At the end of the second decade of the third millennium, a ritual sacrifice of 200 thousands animals still goes on, and is still amazingly popular, even after religious leaders have claimed that it is time to consider ending it, and after the Nepal’s supreme court directed the government to discourage the mass slaughter.
This scenario repeats itself in the case of banning animal abuse. In 2016 many headlines were published regarding the Toro de la Vega festival outlawing. But unfortunately, as in many cases of “outlawing” atrocities, it isn’t the whole festival which is outlawed but only the part that drew most of the criticism – the spearing of the bull to death in the end of the ritual. Certainly this seems as the most violent part, but the rest of the horrors that the bulls are forced to endure during this festival remain. Every other part is still legal, including the bull’s murder, which as of 2016 is not being executed in front of the public in the end of the ritual, but afterwards. Using wood sticks to hit the bull isn’t outlawed, and so they are abundantly used. The bull is still surrounded in a field by hundreds of humans, many of whom ride horses, their exploitation is of course still legal and not even questioned. And of course, the bull still doesn’t understand why this mass is attacking him.
Same goes for dog spinning in Bulgaria which was outlawed but still goes on, El Toro de Coria in Spain which parts of it were banned but the rest of the horror still goes on, and the Ctalonian bullfighting ban which was repealed by Spain’s Constitutional Court on October 2016, with the formal excuse that bullfights are part of ‘Spanish cultural heritage’ and thus outlawing them can only be legislated by the central government.
And the rest of the abusive rituals and festivals, hundreds of them, held all over world, are not even under the “threat” of being banned.
This is our world. A world in which nonhumans are forced into many roles and functions during humans’ celebrations such as Historical Symbols, Rite of Passage Objects, Holy Spirit Signs, Huge Decoration Vessels, Playthings, Offering for their Gods, Offering for their Demons, Tourists Attractions, Sin Containers, Defenders from Evil, Sports Equipment, Lynch Stars, Prosperity Bearers, Live Art Boards, Mobile Torches, Religious Perpetuators, Patron Saint Tributes, Scapegoats, Punching Bags, Masculinity Proofs and etc.
All these and many others are part of a long chain of humans’ celebrations of their dominion over nonhumans.
What is probably worst about this long list is that it is only partial. The diversity is as wide and as wild as human imagination.
Nonhumans’ traditional role in festivals and holidays is to demonstrate humans’ alleged superiority. Different cultures around the world have different manifestations of this deep rooted notion.
Many activists dismiss the ‘argument from tradition’, calling it a lame excuse for abuse.
But in fact, what is more of an authentic characterization of the human race’s tradition than abuse?
The time came long ago for activists to face that this is humanity’s face.
It is the activists calling humans to forsake their violent traditions who should forsake a tradition. A tradition of asking. Asking humans to change, as if advocacy is ever going to be able to deal with humans’ arrogance, narcissism, inherent violence, dogmatism and lack of care.
Activists are causing a very small portion of the torturers to stop a very small portion of the torturing, instead of finding the way to stop all the torturers from doing all of it. Forever.
Please stop wasting your precious time on the pointless effort to change humanity and focus on the best and fastest way to annihilate it.