Readers of my blogs will see that I have empathy with the practice of shechita and dhabiha. It may not stand out in my blogs to date but I do not see the prescribed Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter as “ritual” or especially “religious”. These attributes have only been acquired since first Jews codified the practice after the destruction of the Second Temple and later with the establishment of Islam. In my view the practice had existed for a very long time before it was codified. It’s how meat was slaughtered. But Gadhimai?
I spend enough time in the Twittersphere to know that the Nepalese Gadhimai festival raises a few very serious questions. The Twittersphere says that some 500,000 animals are to be slaughtered in order seemingly to please a goddess. To be frank I have not researched this to any extent do cannot pass any value judgements.
One picture on Twitter shows a skinny bovine whose physical condition would surely warrant an RSPCA intervention and prosecution here in the UK. It’s certainly not an animal that Josh Archer would want to take to show. It’s standing among hundreds of already dead animals. The smell must be terrible. I have to assume the picture is real. Why would people want to photoshop such a gruesome image? A number of pictures capture the moment before beheading. If it’s not real why are the Nepalese government or embassy people not trying to set the record straight?
But I am not writing explicitly to condemn the practice. I don’t have enough information. If what I see is right the practice is horrendous.
Jews and Muslims kill to eat. As they cut the throat they offer a prayer that is meant to thank Our Creator for his bounty and ask forgiveness for taking/sacrificing a precious life. They kill what they need to eat.
If the Twittersphere’s number of 500,000 animals to be slaughtered is correct what do they do with the meat?
The population of Nepal is just shy of 30,000,000. So one animal is to be killed for every 60 people – that’s not 60 (extended) families but 60 individuals – some with small appetites. What facilities have they got for distributing, cooking and eating the meat within a reasonable period of a few days before the meat becomes unsuitable for human consumption?
Now we don’t that 500,000 animals will have been killed this year. Seemingly India has blocked cross border traffic of live animals. The figure has not been loudly contested. Five years ago it is claimed that 250,000 animals were killed.
I do not have all the facts but if this festival is intended to produce meat to eat the figures do not feel right. If the animals are merely wasted that is a considerable waste of a precious resource.
One day I might research this ritual more. For now I can only see pictures of a shockingly inhumane practice that should never be compared and conflated with shechita or dhabiha.