12 Wild Photos From Nepal’s Massive Animal Sacrifice

While Americans were busy stuffing themselves Thursday with the cooked remains of 45 million turkeys, Hindus in Nepal were sharpening knives — well, swords — for their own celebration of animal sacrifice.


The Gadhimai festival, a monthlong celebration in the Nepalese town of Bariyarpur, features the world's largest sacrificial slaughter of animals ranging from water buffaloes, pigs and goats to chickens, rats and pigeons. 

Held every five years and bringing in more than 5 million spectators, the festival is held with the goal of pleasing Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power. The death toll is as high as 500,000 animals.

The photos are well, exactly as wild as you would expect.

A sacrificial buffalo is lead into a field.AP
A butcher with his butcher knife.AP
A goat is sold to be sacrificed.AP
Hindu celebrants crowd the festival.Getty Images
Young devotees attempt to scale the five-foot wall that cordons off the sacrificial area.Getty Images
A butcher stands beside slaughtered buffaloes.AP
Two pigeons and a rooster before being sacrificed.Getty Images
A devotee holds his traditional kukri knife after sacrificing several goats.Getty Images
The severed head of a sacrificed goat.Getty Images
Butchers stand by hundreds of slaughtered buffaloes.AP

Not everyone loves this celebration. A campaign to ban the festival has been spearheaded by French actress and animal-rights activist Brigitte Bardot, who has petitioned Nepal's president to end the "cruel tradition." 

This year, Humane Society International, the international division of animal-protection nonprofit Humane Society of the United States, successfully petitioned India's Supreme Court to stop animals at the border destined for slaughter at Gadhimai. 

According to Human Society International, more than 2,500 animals have been saved — although with anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 animals facing the butcher's kukri over the next two days, that's a drop in the bucket.

The remains of a butchered chicken.Getty Images