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In a tribute to Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power, a Nepalese festival began today with the mass sacrifice of 20,000 buffalo in the village of Bariyapur. Shortly after, 300,000 birds, sheep and goats were similarly ritually slaughtered.
It is estimated as many as 750,000 people travelled from India, which recently banned similar mass-sacrifices, to make up the majority of the festival's estimated one million attendees. Member of Parliament Shiv Chandra Kushwaha skipped Tuesday's legislative meeting, saying that the festival had more importance as a religious celebration.
Although animal rights groups have condemned the ceremony as cruel, the Nepalese government has ignored requests to cancel the festival, held once every five years. Last year, the government banned a similar slaughter during the festival of Yanya Punhi, and was greeted with angry protests.
The meat is taken to local villages, who host large feasts for those in attendance, as it is believed to ward off evil.