The festival is ‘kicked off’ with the ritual slaughter of five thousand buffalo in a field near the temple, after which two days of ritual animal slaughter takes place. Animal rights activists such as PETA are campaigning to halt the mass animal-slaughter, but despite their efforts, the organisers of the festival has promised that this year will be the biggest yet. About 2.5 million devotees turned out for the festival, according to local government official Yogendra Prasad Dulal, who said it was ‘impossible to estimate’ the total number of animals sacrificed so far.
About 6,000 buffaloes were held in an open-air pen prior to being beheaded by butchers using swords and large curved knives. Thousands of goats and chickens will also be sacrificed before the festival ends on Saturday, temple officials said. The heads of the sacrificed animals will be buried in a huge pit while the animal hides and skin will be sold to traders who have contracted to buy them. ‘It is not proper to kill animals in the name of religion,’ Uttam Kafle, of rights group Animal Nepal, told Reuters by telephone from the site. ‘We are trying to convince the people that they can worship at the shrine peacefully and without being cruel to animals.’India’s Supreme Court recently asked the government to stop the illegal movement of animals into Nepal for the ceremony.