Offering to the goddess; River of Heads by Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

Narayan Tushar Kaudinya lives as a Filmmaker and documentary photographer. He did independent theatre and worked as an illustrator. While travelling, also learning about language and society, he taught children in northern Indian states in winters.

I learnt about Gadhimai Fair a month ago of its happening. Imagining about it in Delhi, I will not realize that a festival of this magnitude still exists. In 2009, two million animals were culled together out in the open in one day as an offering to the goddess.

It came again after five years.  Many countries asked Nepal government to stop the killings. India banned its animal’s crossing over to Nepal- a big move as the majority of people coming to the fair comes from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, India.

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Gadhimai fair is a sacrificial ritual that is held every 5 years at the Gadhimai Temple of Bariyarpur, in Bara District. It is primarily celebrated by Madheshi tribal people and Bihari people.  Large crowds, villages together have come to pay their respects from different parts of Nepal and India. Placing themselves in fields spread in acres. They are cooking, sleeping, eating, playing cards under the trees, behind bushes, inside their cars, or on tractors, under or over buses and trucks. This particular village is donating 250 male water buffaloes to the Gadhimai Temple Trust for the holy sacrifice.

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10 million people turned up this year sacrificing 400,000 animals on the first day. With the temple’s head priest performing ritual sacrifice called Saptabali which includes the sacrifice of white mice, pigeons, roosters, ducks, swine and male water buffaloes. More than 30,000 buffaloes were sacrificed on the first day.

Why do they sacrifice? I asked a person from the temple administration. They, I think 99 percent of the people wish for a child, a boy. Ma fulfills their wishes and then they come here with an offering. As the tradition goes, people promise to pay respects to the mother after their wish gets fulfilled.  Just for a boy? I asked. Yes. What if it’s a girl? Well, then they wont come. They will probably wish again. They don’t sacrifice anything if a girl happens to the family.

It’s been four and half-hours since the sacrifice started. I am maneuvering my way back home. Millions of people are still coming and going. There was no place to walk apart from being one in the crowd. Bodies can be found almost anywhere; they were never hard to look out for that afternoon. It’s been 6 hours since the killings started. It will still go on for another 6 hours. I distracted myself by speaking into my voice recorder. God knows how many more will be killed. Headless bodies or just the heads hanging on very many shoulder going away from the river, towards home. It’s a feast. All seem partying like a big happy family. All are carrying weapons as if they were born with it having a third arm. Going home was never this dreadful. Walking and forced to watch each and every thing happening around you. No cycle, no car, no jeep. No tractor. Nothing moved. For sometime I took a stroll along the fields to watch over, I found a baby buffalo sitting alone behind a bush on grass, living. Looking at the masses going by.
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About Narayan Tushar Kaudinya

Narayan Tushar Kaudinya lives as a Filmmaker and documentary photographer. He did independent theatre and worked as an illustrator. While travelling, also learning about language and society, he taught children in northern Indian states in winters. He also runs a primary school with his mother for the underprovided in Delhi. [Official Website]

 

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