In October 2019, ARM’s undercover operatives traveled to the outskirts of Nepal to further document the annual Dashain Festival. Traditionally known as Mwohni, Dashain honors the goddess, Durga, and her various manifestations during this sacred time, in particular Kali- Goddess of Fertility. Dashain is the longest and most anticipated festival that takes place over fifteen days in Nepal and even enforces the closure of all government offices, educational institutions, and many businesses in its honor. Both Hindus and Buddhist Newars celebrate it (with slight interpretations of the ceremonies),
In 2015 ARM initiated its investigations at Dashain. Click here to learn more about Dashain as well as our 2015 operation.
ARM returned in 2019 to document any changes that have occurred since the last operation.
During Dashain 2019, thousands of animals, including buffalo, goats, and pigeons, were sacrificed brutally by worshippers over the entire festival. On the most prominent sacrifice days that ARM attended, an estimated 14,761 goats were beheaded and sacrificed as an offering to Goddess Kali. In addition to this shocking number, hundreds of buffalo, pigeons, and ducks perished following these ceremony days. According to Nepal tradition, those who make an animal offering in the festival will receive a wide variety of blessings, including fertility or ensuring tradesmen safety from accidents and success.
However, controversy is starting to formulate amongst the people. At this year’s festival, ARM interviewed many of the worshippers, amongst them the younger generation, who expressed that while Dashain is a centuries-old tradition, people would not be opposed to amending the animal slaughter instead of more peaceful offerings. Youths stated that what they witnessed is animal cruelty and, in their opinion, not necessary.
Although animal sacrifice occurs regularly throughout Nepal, and older generations believe that by not sacrificing animals, they will make their gods angry, there is hope for a change of animal welfare policies (related to animal sacrifice ceremonies) in Nepal.
ARM will continue its plight to bring forth awareness on this horrific form of animal cruelty and work towards encouraging the people and priests of Nepal to adopt more compassionate and ‘animal-free’ offerings to their gods.