Should we campaign against religious animal sacrifice?

On November 28 and 29, Hindus in Nepal are planning to celebrate the festival of Gadhimai. Traditionally, this festival is celebrated with the ritual sacrifice of 1000s of animals. If the event goes ahead as planned, as many as 250,000 animals may be killed.


A number of animal welfare organisations, such as Compassion in World Farming, have organised campaigns to encourage the Nepalese Hindus to abandon the practice of animal sacrifice at this festival and/or to encourage the Indian government to ban animals from being sent across to Nepal. We, the Jain Vegans Working Group have been asked to encourage subscribers to sign their petitions and/or join the demonstrations.


We have mixed feelings about these kinds of protests and demonstration.

One the one hand, we believe the motivation to stop animals being sacrificed in the name of religion is correct. Animal sacrifice was commonplace in vedic India, and the leaders of the Jain and Buddhist traditions were hugely influential in shifting the Indian mentality towards one where meat consumption and animal sacrifice are considered inconsistent with religion. Indeed, the example shown by past Jain leaders provide inspiration for much of our work to encourage veganism and non-violence in modern society.

On the other hand, we also feel that the protests will do very little to prevent the suffering or killing of animals. A majority of the animals due to be sacrificed were not reared for the purpose of religious sacrifice. Rather, they were reared for the products their bodies produce (their meat, skin and/or reproductive products like milk and eggs). If the protests succeed and the sacrifices are stopped, all of these animals will still be destined for the slaughter house. Accordingly, we believe the most effective way to stop the killing and suffering of animals to encourage others to follow a vegan diet and to support sanctuaries where animals can live out their lives in a safe and caring environment.

We appreciate that our subscribers will hold different positions. Some will support the protests and others will not.

Whatever your position, we encourage you to use the Hindu festival of Gadhimai as an opportunity to reflect.

We encourage you to reflect on whether you believe it is acceptable to use animals in religious rituals, whether in the form of direct sacrifice, or to use products such as milk or ghee which contribute to the killing of cows and calves.

We encourage you to reflect on a vegan lifestyle and supporting animal sanctuaries as a way of reducing suffering of animals.

And we encourage you to reflect on whether it is better to focus efforts on our own actions and our own communities before campaigning against the actions of others.


Please let us know what you think. Leave a comment below, tweet us, or post a message on our international e-group.


If you you would like to find out more about the campaigns, you can find an information pack and petition form here and here.


  1. Barry Miles says:

    I agree with the logic of your article that these animals will die anyway. It is like in the UK when we see farmers in the media lamenting the death of their cows due to TB or foot and mouth infections, but it does not seem to upset them that much when they send their cows and calves for slaughter. However, the manner of mass death at the Gadhimai
    Festival is much crueller, I guess, than individual slaughter in the Nepali villages, and at least some of the animals would have longer lives if kept in their villages. By the way, I am a Christian and try to be vegan as much as I can ( I am vegan at home but sometimes vegetarian when out). As a Christian two of the things that I thank Jesus for are that he put an end to animal sacrifice and that his own sacrifice is leading to the ultimate rescue of the whole creation.

  2. Barry Miles says:

    Just to add to my previous comment. I do think it is right to campaign against the Gadhimai Festival massacre, for the reasons given in my previous comment – cruelty and shortened lives.

  3. Sister Michele says:

    Wisdom teaching advice us ‘It is good to not stand idly by while the ‘little ones’ are taken’. So ministerial protests can be effective.
    Also, more of us could try to be available as a minister and friend for any of the creatures in peril, to offer blessings and love, as a GREEN CROSS Minister, or Green [your groups sign] Minister/Holy /Peace Worker.
    To stay positive for love, one could PROTEST FOR LOVE OF ALL CREATURES.
    It is evil to kill, and does not help those deceived. “Please stop me if I am so wrong!”
    We do not want to give evil for evil, we want healing and spiritual understanding , for that brings in the greater life and experiences for each and every one that does live free of killing and the deceptions.
    When I have protested in the past, I make my signs different from some others-reminders of our Beloved Lord with the different creatures, or however it may be that a group can be reached with the Dharma teachings.
    Also, it is good to check into the ‘spiritual warrior’ arsenal, and dance for defeat of the evil. [vegans are Children of Light, see spiritual dance about ‘stomping down with your feet’, mentioned towards the end of text “The Wisdom of Christ Jesus”.] Yes, we can still love all, but some matters do have a better place, and we can love the ‘Good’ that is with all matter.

    I appreciate Barry’s comments on how the Christ did give sacrifice, also to end all other sacrifice-help is available for all just for the asking. The original meaning of sacrifice seems to be lost. To hold sacred, to sanctify, to keep alive and help develop spiritually “For all creatures are brethren right now in Heaven” [Lord Christ in “The Essene Gospel of Peace”, Book One]. Like when the Elephants are dressed or the Bulls for festival, it show that we would like for our fellow creatures to have spiritual garmenting, and it shows appreciation for our Angels, Beloveds, Lords, and greater Ones.

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