Olivia Lang in Bariyapur, Nepal, reports for the Guardian:
The world’s biggest animal sacrifice began in Nepal today with the killing of the first of more than 250,000 animals as part of a Hindu festival in the village of Bariyapur, near the border with India.
The event, which happens every five years, began with the decapitation of thousands of buffalo, killed in honour of Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power.
With up to a million worshippers on the roads near the festival grounds, this year’s fair seems more popular than ever, despite vocal protests from animals rights groups who have called for it to be banned. “It is the traditional way, ” explained 45-year old Manoj Shah, a Nepali driver who has been attending the event since he was six, “If we want anything, and we come here with an offering to the goddess, within five years all our dreams will be fulfilled.” .
Crowds thronged the roads and camped out in the open, wrapped in blankets against the cool mist. The festivities included a ferris wheel, fortune-telling robots and stalls broadcasting music and offering tea and sugary snacks.
As dawn broke, the fair officially opened with the sacrifice of two rats, two pigeons, a pig, a lamb and a rooster in the main temple, to cheers of “Long live Gadhimai” from spectators pushing against each other for a better view.
In the main event, 250 appointed residents with traditional kukri knives began their task of decapitating more than 10,000 buffalo in a dusty enclosure guarded by high walls and armed police.
Frightened calves galloped around in vain as the men, wearing red bandanas and armbands, pursued them and chopped off their heads…
[continues in the Guardian]