by Roberto SCHMIDT
BARIYAPUR: Hindu worshippers Friday started slaughtering thousands of animals in a remote corner of Nepal to honour their goddess of power, defying a growing chorus of protests from animal rights activists.
Sword-wielding devotees were expected to turn the village of Bariyapur near the Indian border into the world’s largest abattoir during the two-day festival when animals ranging from buffaloes to rats will have their throats slit.
“It is very festive here, everyone is excited,” said head priest Mangal Chaudhary at the slaughter site near a temple devoted to Hindu goddess Gadhimai.
“All the morning rituals have gone smoothly and now we have begun the sacrifices,” Chaudhary told AFP.
Worshippers on the first day were expected to sacrifice only buffaloes, thousands of which have been coralled into holding pens in a large field, before moving onto other animals.
Sita Ram Yadav, a 55-year-old farmer who travelled three hours to reach the village, said the atmosphere was “like a carnival” with thousands of devotees packing the area.
“I am offering a goat to Gadhimai to keep my family safe. If you believe in her, she grants your wishes,” Yadav told AFP.
Worshippers from Nepal and neighbouring India have spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers to the goddess at a temple decked with flowers in preparation.