KATHMANDU: Never one to shy away from a worthy cause, Joanna Lumley is today preparing to protest in a bid to save hundreds of thousands of animals from being sacrificed as part of the Gadhimai festival held in Southern Nepal.
The festival, held once every five years to worship Hindu goddess Gadhimai, runs over two days, and involves millions of people from Nepal, and those who travel from India, bringing an animal – such as a chicken, goat or buffalo – and sacrificing them in the name of the festival.
Joanna Lumley, an ambassador for the Compassion in World Farming, is horrified by the festival, which despite its roots in Hinduism, is not a prescribed event by the faith.
The protest will today see Joanna lead campaigners to the Nepalese embassy in London to hand over a petition of around 80,000 signatures, asking for the festival to be stopped and for the Nepalese government to stop supporting it.
Speaking about the Gadhimai festival to the Evening Standard, Joanna said: “Thousands and thousands of animals are sacrificed or hacked to bits. It’s not part of the Hindu faith, so we have the Hindu Council UK coming today to say it’s no part of the faith and no part of Hinduism.”
She continued, adding: “We’ve got 80,000 petition signatures, which we’ve rushed together, because right-minded people just see this as something horrifying – it’s a horrifying slaughter of animals.”
Joanna, who is a fervent activist and campaigner, most known for her work with Gurkhas in Nepal, also said: “It’s very easy to hide things like this under a cloak of culture or religion, so people have to stand back as you feel you may offend them, but this has no feet in either camp.”
The actress and the Compassion in World Farming are hoping that their petition and protest will see the cease of the festival and for the Nepalese government to stop subsidising the slaughter, after donating £36,500 towards the last festival, held in 2009.
Joanna praised the Hindu Council UK on supporting the protest, saying: “We’re so fortunate to have the Hindu Council with us, because it’s very easy for us with our blue eyes and pale hair with a different faith, sitting in the UK saying: ‘Don’t do that over there!’, but to have the council with us saying: ‘This is where we are, where we live and we denounce it’, I think that’s better.”
The Gadhimai festival is due to be held on the 28 and 29 of November in Southern Nepal, however with a huge quarter of a million animals due to be slaughtered, let’s hope that Joanna, the Hindu Council UK and the Compassion in World Farming efforts don’t go to waste in stopping it.
If you want to take a stand against this horrific protest, you can sign the petition at ciwf.org/gadhimai. (http://www.standard.co.uk)
:: Joanna is heading up a protest to stop an animal slaughter festival in Nepal (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
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