Ending the sacrifice at Gadhimai, part two

© 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

The real meaning of Bakr Eid

© Tsiumpa  dreamstime_xs_21595354


His family was fond of animals, and they always had dogs and cats, Faizan Jaleel recalls of his childhood, growing up in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, around 150 miles (200 kilometers) to the west of Delhi.


Then, for six years, Faizan Jaleel, worked with the dairy industry. In the beginning, his aims were idealistic. He was striving to help poor farmers to increase the productivity of their animals, so that they and their families could have a better quality of life. However, the more time he spent in this work, the more he became aware of the cruelty to animals that was involved in the dairy industry. A devout Moslem, he felt that surely this was not what God wanted him to do. Finally he quit, he stopped drinking milk and became a vegan. He lives in Ghaziabad (Delhi NCR), with his cat and four rescued street dogs.


Working with the Brooke, a charity devoted to helping equines throughout the world, he is the Program Development Manager for 12 Brooke Centres in India.


As a dedicated animal advocate, Faizan Jaleel spends much of his time encouraging his fellow Moslems to take a deeper look at the inhumane practice of animal sacrifice.


His message is that many Moslems have misunderstood the teachings of Islam; Allah, revered as “the Merciful and Compassionate” is opposed to cruelty to animals. There is no requirement for animal sacrifice in Islam.


Bakr Eid and Ibrahims sacrifice


On October 5 and 6, 2014, Moslems around the world will celebrate Bakr Eid. This holiday commemorates the offering by Ibrahim of his son Ishmail to Allah.


In the Koran, it is stated that a miracle took place, and just as Ibrahim was killing his own son as a sacrifice to God, the boy Ishmael was transformed into a ram. Ibrahim had not killed his son, but had killed a ram instead. Mr. Jaleel says that this is spoken of in the Koran, therefore it is not a myth; it was a real event. However, it has been taken out of its historical context and has been misunderstood.


The story of Ibrahim sacrificing the ram is used today by many Moslems as a justification for animal sacrifice on the holiday of Bakr Eid.


Faizan explains that people in those days used to live in the deserts of the Middle East, where there is very little vegetation. It wasn’t possible to grow vegetables in the desert sands or to be a vegetarian; if they wished to survive they had to eat meat.


In those days in that region of the world, killing animals for food was a necessity that could not be avoided. The animal that Ibrahim killed was used for food. However, this is no longer the situation today.


The essential truth to be gained from this story is that Allah does require a sacrifice – but not that he requires that an animal be killed, which is no longer appropriate.




What kind of sacrifice?


The meaning of the sacrifice to Allah is not that it should be an animal, but rather that the sacrifice should be something that is very dear to the person – just as Ibrahim’s son was very dear to him. “The idea is to sacrifice the most beloved thing – that is the real purpose of the sacrifice. The sacrifice must be close to our heart.”


He explains that, these days, a sacrificial animal is not at all dear to the person who is performing the sacrifice. Either a person buys the animal the day before, or more likely, simply pays for an animal to be sacrificed in his name. This isn’t a real sacrifice at all. These people don’t care for the life of that animal, so it is meaningless. It is a cruel and inhumane act, which causes suffering, and it is not a real sacrifice, so it makes no sense.


Slaughter of animals for Bakr Eid is widespread throughout the world, including throughout India. In Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, it has recently be made illegal to slaughter animals in the street. They can be slaughtered only in a licensed slaughterhouse, which will greatly curtail the numbers that are slaughtered for Bakr Eid.


In Andhra Pradesh, many camels are still slaughtered as part of this celebration. In Delhi, where Mr. Jaleel lives, it is generally goats and buffaloes that are killed, not camels, and this is legal only in licensed slaughterhouses. It seldom happens in the streets. Though occasionally, in ghettoes where there is a majority Moslem population, it may occur.


Speaking out


Mr. Jaleel says that there are many Moslems who find this practice of animal sacrifice repugnant. Often they do not participate, but he calls on them to do much more than that. They must speak out against this inhumane custom to their friends and families.




He makes the point that animal sacrifice is not only done by Moslems; it takes place in other religions too, and one must oppose all animal sacrifice, not just that practiced by Moslems.


And so what is the best way for Moslems to observe Bakr Eid? Mr. Jaleel suggests that each person offer something that is important or that has value. Often, this may be money or resources. One may give a donation to a charity, and this gift will be of real benefit to society. By helping human beings or animals, it will be a genuine, positive sacrifice.


Is he making headway with his message? He admits that the going is slow. The custom of animal sacrifice “has been ingrained for many generations, so the pace of change is very slow.” Sometimes it takes many discussions with a person before they begin to understand. More open and more educated Moslems are more amenable to change. It is a big issue that needs a strategic approach. He gets a lot of help from individuals who are working towards the same goal.


Patiently and faithfully, he keeps going with his mission of spreading the word that God is compassionate towards both people and animals – and that Moslems are called to give a meaningful sacrifice to God, from the heart — not a sacrifice that harms animals.


If youd be interested in volunteering to help with this outreach or if youd like to contact Faizan Jaleel, hed love to hear from you. He can be reached by email at faizanjaleel@icloud.com


To visit Faizan Jaleels blog, click here. http://faizanjaleel.wordpress.com/




Top photo: © Tsiumpa / Dreamstime.com


Second photo: / author: Jjron / Wikimedia Commons /” This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license”. / Dromedary camel in outback Australia, near Silverton, NSW.


Third photo: Sharon St Joan / Columns of one of the oldest mosques in the world, at Kilakarai, Tamil Nadu, India.



Animal Sacrifice is not part of Hinduism

A water buffalo

By Dr. Nanditha Krishna

The late Paramacharya of Kanchi – venerated as a saint in his lifetime – said that any function (wedding, festival, etc.) involving the death of animals – including the wearing of silk – cannot be termed as “Hindu”, as every Hindu shastra and mantra speaks of ahimsa as an ideal and invokes nature, both animals and plants, in every ritual.

Unfortunately, Hinduism, in its all-absorbing catholicism, has permitted the entry of all kinds of practices, including animal sacrifice, which was given up in the Vedantic period (1000 B.C.) following the influence of the Upanishads, which came out strongly against the sacrifices of the early Vedic period. Buddhism and Jainism were a similar result of Upanishadic teachings.

Durga puja (Navaratri) also celebrates the defeat of the buffalo-grazers of ancient India by the food-producing Dravidians (Mundas) who worshipped the Mother Goddess. Thus you will find that Durga pooja and buffalo sacrifice is strongest in places of Dravidian culture, such as eastern, north-eastern (including Nepal) and southern India. It has nothing to do with religion. It is a mere celebration of the take over of land which belonged to indigenous people by their conquerors. Tribes such as the Gonds, Maria Gonds, Todas, etc., still worship and graze the buffalo and bury it with ritual honours when it dies. Sacrificing the buffalo – who is described as a demon – was their way of showing contempt for the buffalo grazers. I have written extensively on this subject in my BOOK OF DEMONS, published by Penguin India.

There is neither God nor religion in the act of taking life. I condemn it strongly. We Hindus should work BEFORE the next Navaratri to educate people about how and why buffaloes are sacrificed. The Devi Mahatmya, which is read for nine days during Navaratri, does not even mention animal sacrifice, so it is obviously alien to Durga Pooja. Devi merely kills the demon Mahisha-asura (among others), who took the form of a buffalo. Animal sacrifice is a laukika (folk) not shastraic (canonical) tradition, so you have to persuade local people to give it up at every individual temple.

The Varahariswarar Temple near Kanchipuram

In the 7th century A.D. the great philosopher Adi Shankara stopped animal sacrifice wherever he went – from Pashupatinath in Nepal to Kanchi Kamakshi in the south (he walked all over India). The Shankaracharyas of Kanchi have stopped it in many villages in Tamilnadu, which is one of the reasons why they were hounded by the government. Unfortunately, it suits governments to let the common people “amuse” themselves with sacrifice, etc. so that they will not notice more important problems such as corruption and mis-governance.

Today we are living in an age of crass commercialisation and conspicuous consumption. How does a person show off his/her wealth and power? By sacrificing many buffaloes. It has been mentioned that the cost of a young buffalo is anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 35,000. A person who wastes his money and the life of an animal so easily is not only showing off his wealth, but also his power to take away life – making him a “living God”. That is the ultimate arrogance.

A temple cat, Kanchipuram

Unfortunately, thanks to the Muslim demand for animal sacrifice on Bakr-Id, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act says that nothing contained in the Act shall apply to the use of animals for religious purposes, giving a clean chit to animal sacrifice. Muslim and Hindu animal activists have to work together to stop this cruelty and nonsense. While Ibrahim may have sacrificed a ram instead of his son, God never asked him to kill a ram every year. Nor does Ma Durga thirst for buffalo blood.

Top photo: Zzvet / dreamstime.com / A water buffalo


Second photo:  The Varahariswarar Temple near Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu


Third photo: A temple cat, Kanchipuram