Gadhimai festival
Observed by Hindus
Type Hindu
Significance To please goddess Gadhimai
Observances Animal sacrifice at Bariyapur, Nepal

Gadhimai festival is a month-long Hindu festival that is held once every five years at the Gadhimai temple of Bariyapur, in Bara District, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the capital Kathmandu in southern Nepal. The event involves the world's largest sacrifice of animals – including water buffaloes, pigs, goats, chicken and pigeons – with the goal of pleasing Gadhimai, the goddess of power.[1]


About 5 million people participate in the festival, the majority of whom are Indian people from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Attending the festival in Nepal circumvents the ban on animal sacrifice in their own states.[2][3] Participants believe that animal sacrifices for the Hindu goddess Gadhimai will end evil and bring prosperity.[4]

A month before the ritual in 2009, the Nepalese government realised there would be a "severe shortage" of goats for the ritual sacrifice, as well as for the consumption of goat meat during the festival. They began a radio campaign urging farmers to sell their animals.[5]

The festival started in the first week of November 2009 and ends in the first week of December (up to makar sankranti), the fair has a custom of animal sacrifice that occurred on November 24 & 25 in the year 2009 , with the temple's head priest performing ritual sacrifice called Saptabali which includes the sacrifice of white mice, pigeons, roosters, ducks, swine and male water buffaloes. More than 20,000 buffaloes were sacrificed on the first day.[6] It is estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 animals will be killed during the Gadhimai festival of 2009.[2] The ritual killings were performed by more than 200 men in a concrete slaughterhouse near the temple.[7]

The festival has prompted numerous protests by animal rights activists. In 2009 activists made several attempts to stop the ritual, including Brigitte Bardot and Maneka Gandhi, who wrote to the Nepalese government asking them to stop the killings.[8][9] A government official commented that they will not "interfere in the centuries-old tradition of the people."[2] Ram Bahadur Bomjon, claimed by some of his supporters to be the reincarnation of the Buddha, said that he will attempt to stop the sacrifice at the festival, preaching non-violence and offering a blessing at the place.[10][11] His promise had prompted the government to send additional forces to prevent any incident.[11]

After the festival, the meat, bones and hides of the sacrificed animals are sold to processing and tannery companies in India and Nepal.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jolly, Joanna (24 November 2009). "Devotees flock to Nepal animal sacrifice festival". BBC. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Gadhimai festival begins despite protests in Nepal". The Hindu. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  3. Sarkar, Sudeshna (24 November 2009). "Indians throng Nepal's Gadhimai fair for animal sacrifice". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  4. "Gadhimai Festival: Nepal Mass Animal Sacrifice Festival To Go Ahead Despite Protests". The Huffington Post. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  5. "Nepal hit by severe goat shortage". BBC. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  6. "Over 20,000 buffaloes slaughtered in Gadhimai festival". 25 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  7. Xiang, Zhang. "Gadhimai festival begins in central Nepal". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  8. "Bardot appeal over animal slaughter at Nepal festival". BBC. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  9. Bhanot, Anil (25 November 2009). "The Gadhimai sacrifice is grotesque". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  10. "Sacrifice of 200,000 Animals Proceeds Despite Pleas, Prayers". Environment News Service. 22 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Buddha boy fails to turn up at Gadhimai". Republica. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
id:Festival Gadhimai

hu:Gadhimai fesztivál ms:Perayaan Gadhimai uk:Фестиваль Ґадхімай

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