With only two weeks to go before the mass sacrifice of animals at Gadhimai in Bara, calls to stop the slaughter for once and for all are growing.
Adding his voice to the campaign is Ram Bahadur Bomjon, the 'Boy Buddha of Bara' who gained world renown after he meditated in the hollow of a tree, ostensibly without food and water for six months in 2006. He disappeared mysteriously then, and is now living in the jungle near Ratnapuri.
Buddha boy now
At an ecumenical function on Saturday in Bara, Bomjon (pictured here) urged that the ritual sacrifice be stopped. "The animals are killed cruelly for the notion that wishes will be granted. I urge everyone to stop the slaughter," he said.
Buddha boy in 2006
The Gadhimai sacrifices have been opposed by animal rights groups in Nepal, but this year there has been unprecedented international attention on the gruesome ritual in which half a million buffalos and goats as well as chickens, pigeons, ducks and even rats are sacrificed. The event is held every five years and this year will take place over two days on 23-24 November.
Indian animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has also spoken out strongly against the sacrifices, writing a letter to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal urging him to ban the festival. But preparations are going ahead regardless.
Gadhimai is a transnational festival, and most of the pilgrims as well as the animals being sacrificed come from across the border in India.
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