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To kill or not to kill: Why Nepal debates whether to continue animal sacrifice every Dashain

animal sacrifice

To kill or not to kill: Why Nepal debates whether to continue animal sacrifice every Dashain

Dashain, the festival that honours goddess Durga symbolising power, prosperity, motherly love, and valour, is also surrounded by many fierce debates. One of the biggest debates that Nepali society experiences around this time every year is about animal sacrifice in the goddess’s puja.

For many, Dashain is synonymous with feasting on the meat of the sacrificed animal as a ‘prasad’.  During the 15-day celebration, thousands of goats, buffaloes, sheep and poultry are slaughtered in many temples (shakti peeths) and private houses.  At the same time, many activist protests this practice stating this as an inhumane and gruesome ritual that ignites the instinct of violence in humans in the name of ‘pleasing the goddess Durga.’

As both sides have their own arguments for and against this practice, the debate is unlikely to end anytime soon. Even the pioneers of traditional Hindu culture are also divided about the issue.

Clash of faiths

animal sacrifice dashain nepal
Devotees offering their prayers at Bhadrakali Temple, Kathmandu.

Govinda Tandon, a heritage and culture expert and animal rights advocate, stands against this tradition. He is worried that animal sacrifice has been an essential of Dashain for many people as the worshipping of goddess Durga, management of the expenses for the celebration, and shopping are.

For him, Dashain is only a festival of worshipping nine goddesses (Navadurga) during the Navaratri, hence an auspicious occasion of knowing a

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