Every five years, the Hindu goddess Gadhimai works up quite the bloody appetite. In Nepal, besotted believers sacrifice goats, pigs, buffalo, and roosters to her. Accompanied by their animals, they undertake a twice-a-decade pilgrimage to Gadhimai’s temple in the south of the country. Many participants are from neighboring India. CNN describes the festival as “the biggest religious slaughter in the world.”
“From my village everyone has made a vow [to offer animals],” says Kushwaha from Bariyarpur, a community in Bara district about 60 miles south of Kathmandu. Some, he explains, are glad they have got a son or a daughter, others that a different form of good fortune has befallen them.
The ritual sacrifice of goats, buffaloes and roosters in temples and at home is widespread in Nepal where 80 percent of the population are Hindu. Some five million people from adjoining districts — and also from the bordering Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — will attend the festival, according to local authorities, although only two days are dedicated to the sacrificial ritual itself.
The slaughter follows a set pattern: on Friday male water buffalo calves are killed while on Saturday attentions switches to goats. Officials estimate that up to 10,000 buffalo calves and 150,000 goats will be offered to Gadhimai — the goddess of power — during the ritual.