Launched on Tuesday, December 3, by a priest – after a goat, rat, chicken, pig and pigeon were killed – the festival takes place every five years, with hopes it will bring good luck and encourage Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, to answer their wishes.
Pictures taken by The Humane Society of the United States show the horrific toll this ritual has on innocent creatures.
Authorities previously announced the festival would be banned.
However, it took place anyway, with thousands of Hindu worshippers from across the country travelling to watch the massacre – including small children.
Arkaprava Bhar of Human Society International (HSI) in India, who witnessed the sacrifice first-hand, said:
When the killing started, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was surreal and appalling and devastating all at once. I felt heart broken and furious and faint. Young buffaloes were stumbling over the dead bodies of others, babies watched as others were butchered, some attempted to flee the sword but were caught by the back leg and held down.
I just wanted it to be over, for them and for me, but the killing went on for hours. It was a shameful, protracted, bloody enterprise that I hope to never see again. The horrors of Gadhimai will haunt me probably for the rest of my life, but I am more determined than ever to end this bloodshed.
An extremely depressing experience
Animal after animal had their heads lopped off, butchers hacking away at their necks and the corpses twitching away afterwards.
As I watched terrified baby buffalo being dragged to their death, I was filled with anger. Our team went back to visit the aftermath today and the air was thick with the stench of blood, rotting flesh, animal and human faeces, and garbage.
In the main temple arena where the majority of buffalo are slaugh
Sengupta said that normalising this violence for children is ‘very troubling’, adding:
‘These children are being taught that abusing animals in this way is normal.’
It is crucial that the scale and the horror of this massacre is seen so that we can bring pressure to bear to end it.