A cultural festival in Nepal during which a live goat is ripped apart by villagers using their bare hands and teeth has sparked outrage among animal rights campaigners.
The Deopokhari festival is held every year in August, in the village of Khokana, one of the oldest villages in the Kathmandu Valley in central Nepal.
The 900-year-old festival is a celebration of the culture of the Newari people, the indigenous people of the area around the Kathmandu Valley, and features traditional dancing, music and food.
But animal rights campaigners have branded the celebration ‘barbaric’, as part of the ceremony sees a young female goat brutally sacrificed.
'Brutal': Animals rights campaigners have spoken out against a Nepalese cultural festival during which a young goat is torn apart while still alive by the young men of the Khokana village
Traditional: The Deopokhari festival, which dates back to the 12th century, sees a young goat thrown into the Deu pond, near the village's Rudrayani temple
Savage: A team of nine of the village's men jump into the pond after the goat and proceed to bite and tear at the young goat with their teeth and hands
The five or six-month-old goat is hurled into the Deu pond close to the Rudrayani temple at the centre of the village, followed by nine young men who jump into the pond and begin to tear at the goat with their hands and teeth.
They continue to bite, pull at and strangle the goat until it is torn apart, and the man deemed to have eventually killed it is permitted to lead the year’s procession.
Nepalese organisation Animal Welfare Network Nepal has been spear-heading a campaign against the festival for years, and has succeeded in rallying international support in its struggle.
‘Animal Welfare Network Nepal condemns the act of sacrifice in the festival and is continuously raising its voice against animal cruelty,’ said a spokesman for the AWNN campaign group.
World-renowned animals rights charity PETA has joined the AWNN in its campaign, highlighting the damage that the 'uniquely savage and disgusting' festival does to Nepal's international reputation.
The charity's UK director Mimi Bekhechi, said: 'The Khokana festival demonstrates only obliviousness to world opinion, disrespect for life and an almost uniquely savage and disgusting display of cruelty.
'There are few living beings as gentle and defenceless as baby goats, the victims of this barbarous act.'
Sacrifice: The winner of the competition is the one deemed to have finally killed the goat, and he is allowed to lead that year's procession
Celebration: Animals rights campaigners across the world have condemned the practice, and called on the Nepalese government to put a stop to the festival once and for all
Ms Bekhechi continued: 'Images of terrified kids [baby goats] being attacked and drowned as they bleat and struggle for their lives hurts Nepal's reputation internationally and certainly damages the tourist trade.
'We urge the majority of people in Nepal, who are no doubt kind and caring, to join the international clamour to end these barbaric rituals.'
Surajan Shrestha, President of the Animal Rights Club in Nepal, told MailOnline: 'The process of the ritual is actually a very long one, the goat suffers for at least 40 minutes before she gives up slowly with extreme pain and suffering.
'Khokana festival has been a festival of a particular ethnic group for many years in which a goat is killed in a very cruel manner in the name of god and for entertainment. 'Traditions in which animal cruelty is involved should be stopped as soon as possible.'
Shocked members of the public from across Europe and Nepal have launched a number of online petitions on websites such as Change.org, calling on the Nepali Congress Central Office to ban the practice.
The largest has been signed by more than 53,000 people, while several others have received more than 5,000 signatures each.
‘No one can adequately explain why this practice is carried out year after year – except to say that it is ‘traditional’,’ said Geoff Knight, who launched the original petition.
‘Such a cruel and vicious act inflicted on an animal has no place in a civilised society and should be banned immediately.’
Nepalese national Bidhata Singh, who has also set up a petition against the sacrifice, added: ‘The experience of the goat is excruciating. Every year in Nepal animals are sacrificed in the name of religion or tradition, which is totally devilish, immoral and mad.’
Graphic assault: The original online petition, launched on Change.org, has been signed by more than 53,000 people, shocked by the brutality of the sacrifice
'Disrespect for life': British animal rights campaigner Geoff Knight, who launched the original campaign, insisted the 'cruel and vicious' festival has 'no place in a civilised society and should be banned immediately'
Outrage: The animal rights campaign calling from a ban on the savage festival has reached world-renowned animal charity PETA, which has added its weight to the campaign
Members of the public from across the world who signed the petition have denounced the practice, branding it 'savage', 'shocking' and 'disgusting'.
‘An animal feels pain, and torture of this kind is barbaric and should be banned,’ wrote Jennie Leong, from Australia.
‘There is no justification or excuse for such practices in this day and age, and any civilised society should not tolerate this! The world should do something to stop it.’
Alexander Gurung, from Nepal, added: ‘All the rituals where live animals are sacrificed have to be scrapped. This is inhumane practice.’
Imogen Roberts, from Boston in the U.K., said: ‘This is the most horrifying thing I have seen on the internet. I can’t believe things like this are still allowed, let alone celebrated in the 21st century.’
The festival dates back to the 12th century, when residents began drowning a live goat to appease the gods that were perceived to be living in the pond after a village child drowned in it.
It is held the day after one of Nepal's most popular festivals, Gai Jatra, or the Festival of Cows. The festival is celebrated mainly in the Kathmandu valley by the Newar community, and during the festival – which honours the people who have died that year – cows are marched in the streets.
The Newari people practice a combination of Hinduism and Buddhism which dates back centuries.
Other Newari cultures on show at the Deopokhari festival include the dhime and Devi dances, Newar foods and wine, crafts and music.
But this is not the only Nepalese festival to have drawn the attention of animal rights groups.
A two-day religious festival held every five years in Nepal, sees the ritual slaughter of 250,000 buffalo, birds and goats.
Millions attend the ceremony which is held in honour of the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai, at her temple in Bariyarpur, near the Indian border.
Uproar: The Deopokhari festival is a show of Newari culture, with traditional dancing, food and wine all on show during the celebrations
Appease the gods: A group of men hurl the baby goat into the Deu pond at the start of the celebration, pursued by nine of the village's young men
Competition: The men pull at, strangle and bite the young goat until it is torn apart or drowned. The one deemed to have killed it is crowned the winner
Fight for victory: Two men from the Newari village of Khokana strangle a baby goat in the Deu pond, during the annual Deopokhari celebration
Community celebration: A group of men, women and children from the Khokana village, in the Kathmandu Valley, seize various body parts of the goat with smiles on their faces during the Deopokhari celebrations
Final struggle: Villagers crowd round the pond to watch over the traditional competition, which sees nine men from the Khokana village compete to kill a goat
Shocking violence: The very physical celebration is a spectacle for the whole village, but animal rights charity PETA has claimed it damages Nepal's international reputation
Eventual winner: The victor is the man who eventually kills the goat, which experiences an agonising death in the name of tradition
The games begin: A man dives into the Deu pond in the centre of the village, as residents crowd round and even climb on roofs to get a better view
Watching on: Everyone from the Khokana village crowds round the watch the traditional celebration. The festival dates back to the 12th century when villagers began drowning a goat to appease the gods perceived to live in the pond, after a child drowned in it
Spectacle: Children peer through fence around the Deu pond, near the Rudrayani Temple in Khokana village, to get a better view
Distressing: A child seems disturbed as he looks on through the metal green bars of a fence to see the goat being sacrificed, which has been branded 'disgusting' by animal charities
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3176324/Pictured-barbaric-sacrificial-festival-villagers-appease-Gods-RIPPING-APART-live-goat-bare-hands-teeth.html#ixzz3hUK1837Y
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