Feelings for People – and Animals

On April 25, 2015, Nepal had a horrific earthquake. According to the news, more than 7,000 people died and twice as many were injured.

Feelings for People and AnimalsNepal is a small country sandwiched between India and China. It has a total footprint of about 57 square miles and a population of 27 million people. Its main source of income is from agriculture although it is most famous for its guided tours up the Himalayas.

About 80% of Nepalis are Hindus. Every 5 years, during the Gadhimai Festival, it is their custom to sacrifice animals in honor of their goddess Gadhimai, the goddess of power. In 2014, they killed an estimated 5,000 buffaloes – and thousands and thousands of pigs, goats, chickens, pigeons and rats to please her. All in all, about 250,000 animals were slaughtered. These animals were not killed by skilled and professional butchers in a swift and humane way; they were hacked and beheaded in large open fields for everyone to see.

I have to be careful, sensitive and respectful here because I am talking about a religion as an outsider. And I absolutely believe in freedom of one’s religion. I have not studied Hinduism. I heard, and I hope it is true, that this unusual sacrificial ceremony is only practiced by a certain sect of Nepali Hinduism. I report it to you because I first heard it from my friends RL and JK while I, together with millions of people around the world, were grieving the loss of human lives in Nepal a few weeks ago.

I was shocked and saddened by this tragic irony. Do we humans have to commit massive killings to please a goddess who will make us feel safe? I can’t help but ask this question: What’s the relationship between killing a large quantity of animals and the pleasure of a goddess? Does she like it? Or does some high human authority in that religion like it? In other words, is that an excuse for somebody’s sadistic desires?

A practical question is: If the near-genocide of a productive animal like the buffalo was what the goddess wanted, did it work? An argument can be made that it didn’t. The recent disaster seemed to prove that. (The sacrifice was made not long ago in 2014. The earthquake happenedshortly afterward this year.)

A quiet voice in my brain reminds me: If you have to analyze religion with logic, you are not a believer. I am not arrogant enough to not believe in the existence of deity. But I surely don’t want to kill a few thousand buffaloes to please him or her. I am certain he or she doesn’t need that much steak either.

I am not a vegetarian. I eat meat. I just don’t believe in killing living things that I don’t use for food.

If I have offended you because you are a Hindu, or if you don’t agree with me because you think I am a hypocrite, will you tell me why and enlighten me please? As long as your language is PG-13 and you don’t threaten to kill me, I will reprint your response.

In the meantime, RIP (rest in peace) to the accidentally dead people and deliberately killed animals in Nepal.

*** The End ***

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