Category: Asia


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In normal years, to attend the Asia for Animals Conference – which is always lively and dynamic – you’ll need to spend several thousand dollars and around 15 hours flying across the Pacific.

This year however, due to the pandemic, you can stay in your armchair and pay $20 to be part of the virtual two-day AfA Conference – which is a good deal.

Well, it’s really a two-night conference, from the U.S., due to the time differences.

Speakers

Jane Goodall will give the keynote address.  Other speakers will be well-known animal activists from China, Nepal, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and other Asian countries. The conference will be in English.

The 2021 Conference will be put on jointly by Blue Cross of India and FIAPO (the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations). Dr. Chinny Krishna, one of the founders of these two organizations will give the opening address.

Around twenty sessions and panel discussions will take up highly relevant topics.

One session will focus on building an Asian movement to end live animal markets and the wildlife trade.

A panel discussion on Spirituality and Animal Protection will include Dr. Nanditha Krishna, well-known author of many books on animals, the world of nature, and Hinduism – along with Manoj Gautam from Nepal, Wolf Gordon Clifton of the Animal People Forum, and others. The traditions of many Asian countries go back 5,000 years or longer – so there’s quite a lot to cover.

Jill Robinson, of the Animals Asia Foundation, who has led the struggle to free bears from bear bile farms, will speak about the cat and dog meat trade.

Other sessions will feature – fading out the use of animals in tourism, the role of a plant-based movement, and the role of children in animal rights advocacy. Sessions will also focus on farm animals, wild animals, and companion animals.

Asia for Animal Conferences have been held every year and a half since they began in 2001, twenty years ago, in the Philippines. Animal advocacy in Asia faces challenges – as is the case everywhere in the world. The animal movement in Asia is led by remarkable people, who set an amazing example, marked by a high level of energy, enthusiasm, courage, and perseverance.

You can view the Conference program here: https://www.asiaforanimals.com/conference-2021

Scroll down until you see the schedule. You can see the times in the left margin. “IST” is Indian time.

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Time Differences

The time difference between U.S. Mountain time (Utah time) and IST (Indian Standard Time) is 11 and a half hours.

This means that, for U.S. attendees, the conference does not start on April 24, instead it starts this coming Friday – in the evening of April 23, at 10 pm, Utah time –  or 12 midnight EST.

To convert Indian time (IST) to Utah time, subtract 11 and a half hours.

If you’re not much of a night owl, you may still want just to stay up for one or two events – or if you’re a morning songbird, you may want to wake up for two or three early morning events, starting at around 5 am. Or, you may be completely captivated and want to watch the entire conference – for all of both nights.

In any case, whatever you can watch, it will be fascinating. It will give you an insight into the dynamic work of Asian animal advocates, who stand up for the animals in Asia – and it will be a lot easier than flying across the Pacific for 15 hours!

How to sign up

Go to this link  https://afa2021.eventuresindia.com/register

But first do this: Before registering, you are advised to call your credit card company and notify them that you are about to make a foreign purchase. These days, credit card companies may block your card for making an “unusual” (i.e. foreign) purchase. If you call them in advance, there will be no problem.

Registration for the two-day conference is $20.

Relevance to wild lands

All efforts to save the earth’s animals (both wild and domestic animals – and ourselves too) depend on the continued existence of wild habitat, which means wild lands – which means renewing the earth. We all live on the same earth – one earth.

******

We look forward to seeing you at the AfA Conference this Friday evening!

Nataraja

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Their lives are cast in shadows,

 

They who will not see you,

 

You who no one knows,

 

Not hearing your voice in the grass, talking,

 

Or in the pale wintry call

 

Of the tern,

 

Not hearing your voice of ashes,

 

Unaware of your presence in the flames

 

Of the waters that run,

 

That turn over the stones.

 

Still there is only you,

 

No one else anywhere,

 

You who stand behind all;

 

Within all.

 

With only a billion names

 

You are one.

 

In the night soul of the forest, oaken,

 

In the stalking

 

Of the insistent leopard,

 

In the power of the sea, cresting

 

Blue,

 

In the word

 

Of the wind that so long wandered

 

By the bleak

 

Runes.

 

Now there dawns the dancer in the sky overhead,

 

About whom none may speak,

 

And nothing may be said,

 

Not ever spoken.

 

There rise the flames of the names,

 

Unbroken,

 

Standing still by the tall

 

Reeds in the lake of the sun,

 

Hearing your voice in all the rains

 

That ever were,

 

Singing.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2018

 

Photo: Vince Reinhart/“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.”/Wikipedia/ Waterfall on the Chagrin River, Ohio

 

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Many congratulations to Dr. Nanditha Krishna on receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Literature on March 3, 2016 from Vidyasagar University, at Midnapore, West Bengal.

 

This honor was presented to Dr. Nanditha Krishna (right) by Dr. Ranjan Chakrabarti, Vice Chancellor (left) and by His Excellency Sri. K.N. Tripathi, Chancellor and Governor of West Bengal (center).

 

As well as being the author of over twenty books and hundreds of articles about Indian culture and traditions, Dr. Nanditha Krishna is the President of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, which is active throughout south India, running schools, museums, the C.P.R. Institute of Indological Research, the C.P. Art Centre, and the C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre.

 

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The C. P. R. Foundation carries out a vast array of programs and special projects – from the Kindness Kids Project to the restoration of over fifty sacred groves. Some programs further an awareness of Indian art, culture, history, and archeological discoveries. Some provide assistance and encouragement to those who may be less fortunate – people, especially children and women, of many diverse backgrounds and circumstances.

 

The work of the Foundation casts a light on many thousands of years of the life of India, from great classical art and history to folk art and folk traditions. At the heart of all these traditions and the work of the Foundation lies a deep appreciation of the natural world, animals, the earth, and the environment.

 

The C.P.R. Foundation was founded in 1966 to continue the work of one of India’s greatest statesmen, C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar.

 

To visit the website of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, click here.

 

Arunachala

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

No serious person in the modern world really believes that rocks are conscious. There are a few exceptions which we’ll come to in a moment.

 

Watching the TV series, The Universe, being shown on the H2 channel, one can absorb fascinating facts. Underneath the vast atmosphere of Jupiter, for example, lies an ocean – not an ordinary ocean, but an ocean of hydrogen that is brighter than the sun and intensely blue, also hotter than the surface of the sun.

 

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In between the planets of the solar system lie immensely vast spaces, so large as to be incomprehensible – and far vaster distances separate the galaxies from each other. The universe is expanding. Not only is it expanding, but the rate of expansion, counter-intuitively, is speeding up, not slowing down. Our galaxy is zooming at an ever increasing rate of speed away from all other galaxies. Eventually they will be so distant that we will no longer see them. All light will go out, and the universe will come to a cold, dark end. Or so science tells us – unless we accept another theory, that the universe will collapse in on itself to end in a great crunch, and then expand outwards again.

 

In short, “modern science” presents us with what may seem to be a picture of the universe that is cold, dark, lonely, pointless, and doomed (albeit with flashes of the spectacular and dramatic, but doomed nonetheless).

 

Is it possible though that this is not so much a depiction of actual reality, as it is a reflection of the dysfunctional human psyche of the modern world — a condition towards which we have devolved over the past few thousand years? After all, is it impossible that the state of our collective psyche might color our collective perception of external reality? Just a thought.

 

So we are told that, in the midst of this desert of lifelessness called the universe, are tiny islands of awareness, we humans – and today, many scientists accept the concept that there may be alien life forms on other planets, who have evolved other civilizations. We may or may not ever be able to contact them, and if or when we do, we may find them to be either friendly or hostile. Or they may be all around us all the time in other dimensions, who knows?

 

As for the animals that share the earth with us, most humans, whether fond of animals or not, assume that they are a lower life form, and somewhat less important than ourselves. When wildlife biologists talk about the populations of birds increasing or decreasing, an individual bird with her own life and awareness, does not rank very high in the scheme of things as we see it from our human perspective. We do tend to care about species that teeter on the verge of extinction, especially the large charismatic ones, the tigers or the elephants, but the odd orange beetle or the obscure blue butterfly doesn’t really catch our attention.

 

As for plants, people who feel an affection for trees are generally considered quite odd. Though, on the other hand, when tall, old beautiful trees that line city streets are cut down one day by an insensitive city planner, the level of public outcry can be deafening.

 

In December, 2015, Nguyen The Thao, the head of the Hanoi People’s Committee, in Vietnam, was forced to step down following public outrage over his plan to cut down 6,000 famous, ancient trees lining the streets of the capitol. There have been similar incidents of public rage over felling trees in the U.S. and worldwide.

 

In the year 1730, the Bishnois, in India, often called the world’s first environmentalists, sacrificed their lives to protect the beloved trees of their village. The king had sent his soldiers to fell the trees to make way for a temple he was building. One by one, the people of the village stood between the soldiers and the trees, and one by one, they were killed defending their trees. Eventually, at the end of the day, the king arrived. Witnessing the numbers of people lying dead, he relented and ordered his soldiers to stop. By this time 363 brave men and women had heroically given their lives to protect their forest. To this day, the Bishnois, in northern India, are known for protecting trees and animals.

 

Where does this leave us? Well, basically, apart from a few “tree-huggers” and a much larger and growing number of animal activists, the predominant worldview – particularly in academic or scientific circles – is still that humans are important – and anything else may be moderately important in relation only to humans.

 

The planet Mars may be important because after we have destroyed the earth we live on, we may be able to colonize Mars by terra-forming it and making it suitable for us to live on. This seems to be an official view of NASA and a goal of space exploration.

 

On October 9, 2009, NASA bombed the moon by sending two rockets crashing into the moon’s south pole. The intent was for the impact to throw up clouds of debris in which water might be found. In terms of planning a future base on the moon, water would be very useful.

 

To all ancient peoples on the earth the moon is a divine, sacred being and bombing her is a sacrilegious act. NASA scientists and engineers did not seem troubled by this.

 

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The ancient Mesopotamians worshipped Sin as the moon god. The Japanese called him Tsukyyomi. The ancient Egyptian god, Thoth, was a lunar deity. The Mayans revered Awilix as the goddess of the moon, although she was sometimes referred to as male. The Micmacs, a Canadian, Algonquian tribe, say that the dark spots on the moon are spots of clay left there when rabbit had caught the moon in a trap, then was forced to release him when the moon threatened him. Many Asian peoples see a rabbit in the moon, rather than a “man in the moon.” It seems that all neolithic and paleolithic peoples worshipped the moon, the sun, and the planets, seeing them as divine beings. One can find traces of this ancient worship today in living religions.

 

Of course, these days we all know better and do not believe such nonsense – or do we? How exactly has science been able to prove that the moon, the sun, the planets, and the galaxies are inert, unconscious, entirely physical, and totally non-spiritual beings that have absolutely not a grain of consciousness among them? Have you seen any proof of this? You haven’t, and neither have I. This assumption of a lack of consciousness on the part of heavenly beings is just exactly that – an assumption, nothing more.

 

There is simply nothing “scientific” about the assertion that only humans and maybe higher animals have consciousness.

 

All the world’s ancient systems of knowledge maintained the opposite – that indeed the great beings of the night skies are conscious and aware, that they have a real power and an identity, that they are beings, not things.

 

In Tamil Nadu, in southern India, at Thiruvannamalai, there is a mountain named Arunachala. The mountain has been worshipped as sacred for thousands of years and is said to be Lord Shiva. It is not that Lord Shiva lives within the mountain, but instead Lord Shiva is the mountain.

 

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In Australia, a massive, one thousand foot high rock, rising straight up out of the plains in the central part of the country is called Uluru, and is known to the native peoples as a sacred mountain – which has been there since the dreamtime. To them, reality is a dream, and the ancient perceptions of their ancestors represented a higher, truer form of reality. Who is to say that they are wrong?

 

Inyan Kara is the highest peak of the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. To the Lakota Sioux and other nearby native peoples, all the Black Hills were sacred and were the home of the thunder gods and the Great Spirit. The destruction of these hills to create the Mount Rushmore carvings is seen by them as the desecration of a holy place.

 

It is difficult, even for modern humans, not to feel awestruck in the majestic presence of towering stone cliffs – or sometimes even in the presence of small little rocks that seem to invoke some special presence, that may seem to “speak.”

 

From where do we gather the impression that these are not great beings, when our instincts tell us that indeed they are sacred beings? Being sacred, are they not also conscious, are they not gods or goddesses? Is not the earth itself a living, sacred being – mother to all of us? There is a voice within us that calls to us to acknowledge and feel a sense of reverence towards these ancient ones – these great rock entities worshipped the world over by our ancestors, these rocks and mountains who perhaps know far more, with a knowledge and perception deeper and more profound, than we small humans could ever imagine or have any grasp of.

 

Photos:

 

Top photo: Sakthiprasanna / Wikimedia Commons/ This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. / Arunachala at Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India.

 

Second photo: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team / NASA, public domain / Cluster and star-forming region Westerlund 2.

 

Third photo: E. A. Rodrigues / Wikipedia Commons / The Hindu god Chandra riding in his chariot.

 

Fourth photo: Mark Andrews / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Uluru, the Northern Territory, Australia.

 

Sources:

 

To read about the public outcry over the felling of 6,000 trees in Vietnam, click here.

 

To read about the world’s first environmentalists, the Bishnois, click here.

 

To read about NASA’s bombing of the moon, click here.

 

 

 

 

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These are not jallikattu bulls, but bulls rescued by Blue Cross of India.

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

A December 31, 2015 editorial in the newspaper The Hindu, “A Stand Against Reason,” describes the possibility that the cruel sport of “jallikattu,” bull-racing, will be re-introduced in Tamil Nadu, although it was banned last year by the Supreme Court. Here is the gist of the main points in The Hindu editorial:

 

In human sports, the contenders have a choice as to whether or not to participate in a sport where they may incur a risk of injury. Of course, animals have no such choice.

 

This is especially true of jallikattu, in which frightened bulls in pain are forced to run a gauntlet of young men trying to leap onto them, hanging onto their horns. The essential cruelty of this “sport” lies in the fact that bulls, unlike horses, do not naturally run. They are tortured behind the scenes, and the significant pain inflicted on them forces them to run through the crowds.

 

Therefore, it is impossible to hold jallikattu events without inflicting pain and cruelty on the bulls. There is no such thing as “humane jallikattu.

 

Last year, the Supreme Court of India, ruled that jallikattu is illegal because it is a violation of long-standing Indian law against animal cruelty. Proponents of  jallikattu had argued that these cruel events should be allowed because they are a tradition. However, in a country like India, where traditions go back thousands of years, jallikattu is actually quite recent. It goes back only one or two hundred years. Many of the spectators are foreign tourists, and most Indians do not follow a sport that is unkind to bulls. It was judged to be illegal, by the Supreme Court, because it is abusive towards the animals.

 

Since then, the Tamil Nadu government has requested that legislation be passed to re-instate the practice of jallikattu. It is surprising that the Minister of the Environment, Prakash Javadekar, has indicated that he is in favor of this request.

 

Not only is jallikattu extremely inhumane to the bulls, it also resulted in many injuries and deaths every year to the young men who chased the bulls. It would have been preferable if the Tamil Nadu government had taken to heart the intent of the Supreme Court, which was to prevent human injury and loss of life, as well as preventing animal suffering.

 

It goes against good sense and reason to seek to re-instate a sport that the Supreme Court of India banned, following very thorough, extensive testimony, because of its excessive violence and the suffering inflicted on both humans and bulls.

 

To read the original December 31, 2015 editorial in The Hindu, click here.

 

If you wish, you may submit a comment at the end of the article.

 

Photo: Sharon St Joan, 2012. These are not jallikattu bulls; they are bulls rescued from illegal transport by Blue Cross of India. 

 

 

 

00team and buffalo

 

By Rudra Krishna

 

During the recent floods in Chennai, on November 14 at about 6 am, the Blue Cross of India received a call from Mr. Velu, on the Red Hills by-pass road, with the information that a buffalo was being washed away with the heavy current of the breached Ambathur lake, that he was following her, and that we needed to rush out right away.

 

Our volunteers Kiran, Selvam, Kavin, Santosh, Arjun, and Shunmugam had all returned from late-night flood rescues just an hour and a half before the call came in, and were resting at the Blue Cross facility in Guindy. They were woken up and immediately left to attend to the rescue. The scene that met their eyes seemed to be out of a nightmare, for they all saw a massive buffalo (they didn’t know at the time that she was full-term pregnant) who was fighting against the currents to reach dry land. They report that the flowing currents were battering her from all sides, and it was clear that the soil under her feet was being washed away. At one point in time, she could no longer reach down to the ground and was just floating, at which point our clever boys guided her gently, using poles, under a culvert and into a storm water drain.

 

 

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Once she was stuck in the drain, our volunteers worked with ropes and fashioned a harness, and—with the help of some gracious onlookers (who also took the action pictures in the frame)—she was pulled out to safety.

 

A word here though: pulling out an 800-kilogram buffalo is, unsurprisingly, an incredibly difficult task. The ropes had to be placed very judiciously so that she wouldn’t dislocate any limbs. Moreover, it is a pretty risky thing to approach a buffalo. They can be very aggressive at times, especially when in distress. Kiran had to enter the deep storm water drain and fasten the ropes on to her. She wasn’t thrilled about it initially, but he coaxed and cajoled until she allowed him to harness her and secure the heavy ropes properly. The team then pulled her out safely. She was brought back to our Guindy facility, where she delivered her baby, a female calf we named Gina. We are thrilled to report that both mother (who we’ve named Yamini) and little Gina are doing well at our Guindy facility.

 

 

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Our team sustained a few minor injuries during the rescue, but Kiran received rather considerable injuries due to twice being washed off his feet by the currents and getting thrown around a bit. However, we are also glad to report that he is now doing fine.

 

The whole rescue happened during extremely heavy rain, which might not be clear from the pictures.

 

In the recent devastating Chennai floods, Blue Cross has rescued 12,000 animals, either taking them to higher ground or, as needed, providing shelter, food, and vet care. The city is still recovering and Blue Cross flood rescue teams continue this life-saving work every day. – Editor

 

How you can help animals in the floods

 

If you’d like to donate to help Blue Cross of India with their work rescuing animals affected by the floods…
From the U.S. or anywhere outside India, click here.

 

From inside India, click here.

 

Thank you!

 

©  2015, text and photos, Blue Cross of India. May be reposted with credit given.

 

 

 

 

 

© Mcpics:dreamstime_xs_16011660

By Sharon St Joan

To read part one first, click here.

Meanwhile, Gauri Maulekhi, of HSI and PFA, appealed to the Supreme Court of India, which then issued a directive to close the India-Nepal border to any transport of animals into Nepal during the weeks preceding the festival.

Since most of the animals to be sacrificed came from India, closing the border had a momentous effect.

Large numbers of volunteers from Indian animal welfare groups arrived to assist the Border Patrol in spotting people trying to take animals to Nepal. They spoke with farmers and other animal transporters and, if they did not turn back, the volunteers followed up with the Border Patrol to make sure they were sent back.

Dawn Williams and his team from Blue Cross of India played a leading role in tracking down those attempting to smuggle animals into Nepal. A former commando, Dawn Williams rescues animals daily, often risking his life going down dangerous wells to pull out cows, dogs, cats, or other animals. Animal People contributed a generous grant to support this highly successful effort along the Indian/Nepalese border.

Jayasimha Nuggehalli and Alokparna Sengupta of HSI – India and many other volunteers were also there. All these courageous animal people, along with a great many others, on both sides of the border, worked long days and nights in hazardous, primitive conditions.

© Erinpackardphotography:dreamstime_xs_22512788

The volunteers from the various groups rescued around 2,500 animals and sent them to shelters. Many thousands of animal owners and transporters were turned around, taking their animals back home with them.

Also in the days leading up to the event, in Nepal, Uttam Dahal of Nepal Animal Welfare and Research Centre approached Nepal’s Supreme Court, which issued a directive that all Nepalese laws were to be enforced by the police and adhered to by all local and national authorities and individuals, including the Nepal Animal Health and Livestock Services Act, the Nepal Animal Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Act, and the Environment Protection Act. In other words, the Court ruled that barbaric slaughter by machete in unsanitary conditions would not be allowed. This re-enforced the stance of animal activists that the Gadhimai sacrifice was illegal.

Jayasimha Nuggehalli and Alokparna Sengupta in a journal described the difficult and dangerous circumstances of their work along the border. At one point they stopped a transport truck full of buffaloes – this nearly led to their arrest by the Nepalese police who stopped them repeatedly throughout the rest of the day. They wrote sad descriptions of animals being led along to the sacrifice. As they made their way towards the temple, they encountered a horrendous scene of hundreds of thousands of people camped out in open fields and then, in the days following, the mass killings of animals near the temple.

They and the many other volunteers rescued many animals. Sadly, some animals did get through and thousands of animals were slaughtered – however, the total was at least 70% fewer animals than the half a million slaughtered in 2009.

In the end, the festival itself was a failure, so much so that the Chinese company who had contracted to buy the remains of the poor slaughtered animals canceled their contract – there were just not enough animals available. The future was already looking bleak for the next Gadhimai festival in 2019.

© Aleksandr Noskov dreamstime_xs_32134970

Inside the temple, for several hours, as multitudes of people approached the head priest, Mangal Chaudry, to seek his blessings, Dr. Nanditha Krishna, who had earlier made his acquaintance at Jaipur, had been invited to sit beside him. Dr. Nanditha Krishna has an unmatched gift for communicating about innocent animals – in a way that is both non-judgmental and unflinchingly direct – a clear voice of truth. In numerous situations behind the scenes, without fanfare, her words, whether to government leaders or to rural village women have helped to turn the tide on one animal issue after another. There is no doubt that they had an effect in this case.

Manoj Gautam, President and Founder of AWNN, in Nepal, also spoke at length with the head priest and held a number of meetings with the temple committee.

The conditions around the festival were entirely horrible for all those who traveled there to help the animals – the brutality and hatred, the filth and dirt, the smells, the sights, the sounds, all were a nightmare – from the travel on dangerous, rugged roads to the atmosphere of cruelty and the immense suffering of the animals. All those who went to help are heroes, and many thanks are due also to all those who supported them in India, in Nepal, and around the world.

In the end, the bloodsport that was the Gadhimai sacrifice could not stand up to the combined force of those working on behalf of the animals, and, at last, the temple sacrifice was revealed to all as what it was – a horror, a disaster, and finally also an economic failure.

With the announcement, on July 28, 2015, by Motilal Prasad Gadhimai Temple Trust Secretary and Ram Chandra Shah, Trust Chairman, the Gadhimai animal sacrifice finally came to an end.

Because one could not forget the suffering of so many animals, the ending of the sacrifice was not a joyful victory, but it was a decisive one.

In the words of Dr. Chinny Krishna, Chairman Emeritus of Blue Cross of India, “A tipping point had been reached, with the negative world-wide publicity of the senseless killing, the lower than expected numbers of those killed, and the Supreme Court’s rulings which would have ensured even smaller numbers of animals in 2019.”

An entrenched, blood-thirsty spectacle, which it seemed might never end, had been stopped by the will, the courage, and the dedication of the many who set aside their own wellbeing and comfort, and who never gave up in their fight to save hundreds of thousands, and over the years what would have become millions, of innocent animals.

© Sharon St Joan, 2015

Top photo: © Mcpics / Dreamstime.com

Second photo: © Erinpackardphotography / Dreamstime.com

Third photo: © Aleksandr Noskov  / Dreamstime.com

 

 

© Neverse : dreamstime_xs_48509749

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

Nearly 300 years ago, Bhagwan Chowdhary, a Nepalese man who’d been thrown into prison, prayed to the goddess Gadhimai for help, promising to sacrifice animals to her if she would get him out of jail. He was freed and, in return, he sacrificed five animals to the goddess, and he founded the temple dedicated to her. Today, in the twenty-first century, his great-great-great grandson serves as the head priest. Over the years the animal sacrifices grew and grew until the Gadhimai Temple became known as the world’s most ghastly scene of bloodshed.

 

On July 28, 2015, at a New Delhi press conference organized by the Animal Welfare Network Nepal, Humane Society International, and People for Animals, the temple authorities of Gadhimai Temple made the announcement that the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of animals, held every five years, would be permanently canceled. The world’s largest animal sacrifice had finally come to an end.

 

© Lakhesis:dreamstime_xs_34930727

 

 

Although billions of animals are killed worldwide every year, and no words can do justice to their suffering, the five-year sacrifice at Gadhimai was particularly horrifying. It was visible, taking place outside in full view. In 2009, around 500,000 animals were killed out in the open by men with machetes, resulting in a grotesque scene of unimaginable gore and bloodshed.

 

That this sacrifice, which drew hundreds of thousands of devotees, could be canceled had seemed impossible – despite all the determined efforts of animal advocates. This tremendous victory will save millions of animals in the future from a horrible death.

 

 

In a statement at the press conference, Shri Ram Chandra Shah, the Temple Trust Chairman said, “For every life taken, our heart is heavy…the time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration.”

 

© Yulia Babkina:dreamstime_xs_40968199

 

 

With the support of Humane Society International (HSI), Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWWN) had for some time been meeting with the temple committee, to work towards ending the sacrifices. The temple committee thanked these groups for showing them a path forward.

 

Gauri Maulekhi, HSI – India consultant and Trustee, People for Animals, remarked on the need for continuing to educate the public, saying, “HSI -India will now spend the next three and a half years till the next Gadhimai educating devotees in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal on the temple trust’s decision not to sacrifice animals.”

 

The Gadhimai Temple Committee has also decided not to sacrifice any animals during the upcoming harvest festival. Instead, they are placing any animals that arrive into a shelter where they’ll be cared for and turned over to animal groups to be rehomed.

 

 

© Jdannedreamstime_

 

 

In India, which has a long tradition, over thousands of years, of kindness and reverence towards animals, animal sacrifice is illegal. Occasional incidents of animal sacrifice do still occur in rural villages, never performed by Brahman priests, but only by individual farmers or by local village priests. Animal sacrifice is not part of Hinduism and is denounced by all Indian Hindu authorities.

 

However the situation in Nepal is different. Animal sacrifice is widespread. The temple in Nepal that has never practiced animal sacrifice is the Pashupathi Nath Temple founded by the Indian Hindu saint, Adi Sankara, in the seventh century AD. AWWN and many other Nepalese opponents of animal sacrifice have worked for many years to end this gruesome practice.

 

Awareness of the horrors of Gadhimai and fierce opposition from animal groups has grown worldwide in recent years. A great many individuals and organizations played a part in this victory for animals. Swami Agniyesh, a popular social and animal activist, urged his followers to boycott the festival and held a hunger strike at the Gadhimai Temple.

 

Back in 1999, Mr. T. Shantilal Jain, then Treasurer of Blue Cross of India, raised the issue of the Gadhimai sacrifice to the Board Members of Blue Cross, asking what might be done to stop it. Dr. Chinny Krishna and Dr. Nanditha Krishna traveled to Nepal, where a prominent businessman had promised to arrange a meeting with then King Birendra. They waited in Kathmandu for three days, however the meeting did not materialize, and they left.

 

The sacrifices in 2004 and 2009 went ahead. The numbers of animals and people involved only increased – until the numbers of animals sacrificed reached half a million in 2009. They included buffalos, chickens, pigeons, calves, goats, rats, and many others. In recent decades the numbers have exploded, with the majority of the animals coming across the border from India. Many of the animals were brought by small farmers who believed that sacrificing an animal would bring good fortune to their families. Other animals were paid for and transported in trucks.

 

In 2014, as the time for another five-year sacrifice neared, efforts to halt the bloodshed were stepped up. HSI India persuaded the Chief Priest at Gadhimai to attend the FIAPO (Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations) Conference held that year in Jaipur. While he was there many people spoke with him, asking him to cancel the slaughter, including Manoj Gautam, Founder of AWWN, Dr. Nanditha Krishna, Chair of HSI India, and Jayasimha Nuggehalli, Managing Director of HSI India. Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, India Government Minister and Founder of People for Animals, offered financial assistance to re-build the Gadhimai Temple if the sacrifice was halted. Mrs. Gandhi also generously paid the fares of animal activists who traveled by train to Nepal.

 

Continued in part two

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2015

 

Top photo: © Neverse / Dreamstime.com

 

Second photo: © Lakhesis / Dreamstime.com

 

Third photo: © Yulia Babkina / Dreamstime.com

 

Fourth photo: © Jdanne / Dreamstime.com