Nepal's Gadhimai Fest is The World's Largest Animal Sacrifice Ritual

Published December 3rd, 2019 - 08:02 GMT

Hindu worshippers began killing thousands of buffalo, Tuesday, in what is reputedly as the world's biggest animal sacrifice festival, held every five years in a remote corner of Nepal. This is despite efforts to end the bloodshed.

The Gadhimai Festival kicked off in the early hours amid tight security with the ceremonial slaughter of a goat, rat, chicken, pig and a pigeon. A local shaman then offered blood from five points of his body.

Some 200 butchers with sharpened swords and knives then walked into a walled arena bigger than a football field that held several thousand buffalo as excited pilgrims climbed trees to catch a glimpse.

Thousands of worshippers from Nepal and neighboring India have spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers ahead of the event in Bariyarpur village, close to the Indian border.

An estimated 200,000 animals ranging from goats to rats were butchered in the last two days of the Gadhimai Festival in 2014, held in honor of the Hindu goddess of power.

According to legend, the first sacrifices in Bariyarpur were made several centuries ago when the goddess Gadhimai appeared to a prisoner in a dream and asked him to establish a temple for her.

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A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalos as a offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalos as a offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

People watch Hindu devotee slaughter buffalos as offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

People watch Hindu devotee slaughter buffalos as offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee prepares to slaughter a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee prepares to slaughter a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP

Hindu devotees carry their blades on the eve of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, south of the Kathmandu on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal on December 2 ahead of a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices, set to begin on December 3, take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. PR

Hindu devotees carry their blades on the eve of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, south of the Kathmandu on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal on December 2 ahead of a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices, set to begin on December 3, take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

A goat travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

A goat travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Hindu devotees travel with a goat in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Hindu devotees travel with a goat in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

A devotee stretches her legs as she travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

A devotee stretches her legs as she travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Buffalos lie down inside the sacrifice enclosure ahead of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Buffalos lie down inside the sacrifice enclosure ahead of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Buffaloes are seen through a hole as they stand in the sacrifice enclosure ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Buffaloes are seen through a hole as they stand in the sacrifice enclosure ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Hindu devotees lead a buffalo along a road towards Gadhimai Festival near Bariyarpur on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

Hindu devotees lead a buffalo along a road towards Gadhimai Festival near Bariyarpur on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalos as a offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
People watch Hindu devotee slaughter buffalos as offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee prepares to slaughter a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees carry their blades on the eve of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, south of the Kathmandu on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal on December 2 ahead of a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices, set to begin on December 3, take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. PR
A goat travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees travel with a goat in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A devotee stretches her legs as she travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffalos lie down inside the sacrifice enclosure ahead of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffaloes are seen through a hole as they stand in the sacrifice enclosure ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees lead a buffalo along a road towards Gadhimai Festival near Bariyarpur on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalos as a offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalos as a offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
People watch Hindu devotee slaughter buffalos as offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
People watch Hindu devotee slaughter buffalos as offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee slaughters a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee prepares to slaughter a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
A Hindu devotee prepares to slaughter a buffalo as an offering during the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur on December 3, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal for a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. Prakash MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees carry their blades on the eve of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, south of the Kathmandu on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal on December 2 ahead of a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices, set to begin on December 3, take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. PR
Hindu devotees carry their blades on the eve of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, south of the Kathmandu on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu devotees gathered in southern Nepal on December 2 ahead of a festival believed to be the world's biggest ritual animal slaughter, despite court orders and calls by animal activists to end the event. The sacrifices, set to begin on December 3, take place every five years in Bariyarpur village close to the Indian border, in honour of the Hindu goddess of power. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A goat travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A goat travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees travel with a goat in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees travel with a goat in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A devotee stretches her legs as she travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
A devotee stretches her legs as she travels in a vehicle ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Baryarpur, 160 kms south of the Kathmandu, on December 2, 2019. Thousands of Hindu worshippers are flocking to a village in southern Nepal on December 2, defying court orders and calls by animal activists, in preparation for the world's biggest animal sacrifice. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffalos lie down inside the sacrifice enclosure ahead of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffalos lie down inside the sacrifice enclosure ahead of the Gadhimai festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffaloes are seen through a hole as they stand in the sacrifice enclosure ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Buffaloes are seen through a hole as they stand in the sacrifice enclosure ahead of Gadhimai Festival in Bariyarpur, 160 km south of the capital Kathmandu, on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees lead a buffalo along a road towards Gadhimai Festival near Bariyarpur on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
Hindu devotees lead a buffalo along a road towards Gadhimai Festival near Bariyarpur on December 1, 2019. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP