Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A bad day for goats

Dashain is a festival where Hindus in Nepal sacrifice animals to worship the goddess Durga. In addition to 100's of thousands of their own goats, water buffaloes and chickens, Nepal imports 200,000 goats from Tibet for this festival. While in Pokhara, we went to an enormous outdoor market that was selling goats for the festival. A goat even got on the bus with us.

We decided to go to Gorkha for the actual celebration. Gorkha is famous because Prithvi Narayan Shah, the first king of Nepal came from here and there is an incredible mountain top temple/fort there. It is also famous for having the most active Diason festival.

We slowly made our way up the 1500 steps to the temple. As we got closer to the top, there were goat dressing stations. They would boil and burn the dead goats. The smell of burning goat hair was disgusting and everywhere.

As we got close to the top of the temple, the carcasses were being moved down the stairs.. Some carcasses in big plastic bags, others being carried by two people one carrying the front legs the other carrying the back, and some goats were just being dragged down the stairs (thump, thump, splatter, splatter) were being dragged down the stairs. Blood was everywhere…it is surprising how quickly you get used to the site.

Finally we get up to the gate that is surrounded by a bunch of families with their goats and a couple of water buffalo to be sacrificed. Unfortunately, it was being manned by the YCL (Young Communist League) …bad news since they are really just a bunch of violent thugs posing as Maoist sympathisers who are spoiling the country. Too bad they could not be sacrificed instead of the animals...but I digress. We were not going to try to go past them. Then, we saw some other foreigners who told us that we could go through the exit on the other side since we were not bringing animals to be sacrificed.

We made our way into the temple. There were families with their animals (mostly goats but one huge water buffalo) lined up ready to go into a small room to sacrifice the animals. There must be a bit of a ceremony in there because we did not see anyone walk out, although there were plenty of people walking around with blood all over their feet and the bottom of their clothes.

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