Dasain 2: Animal Sacrifice

Oct 9, 2011 | Nepal


Hindu ritual before the sacrifice begins. Bright yellow barley shoots only seen at Dasain rituals are included among traditional offerings.

The 10-day festival of Dasain begins with the planting of barley seeds in a clay pot and ends with a blessing from elders. In between, hundreds of thousands of animals are ritually slaughtered across the country. To curry favor with Kali, to complete ancient Tantric rites, and to ensure the success of work in the coming year, people sacrifice everything from an egg to a water buffalo. Military, police, and government offices make major sacrifices, as do shrines dedicated to the goddess Kali.

Video 1: The Ritual Begins

A Brahmin priest and a man I think is the head of the office begin the rite with prayers and an array of offerings (photo above). Then they blow a shell horn, ring a bell, play drum–all to call the attention of the gods and purify the area.

Video 2: Goat Sacrifice

Flowers and water are sprinkled on the goat, and the goat must shake his body, which is taken as indication that he has given his permission for the sacrifice. Note the shake and then people clap in approval. You can wait for it, but you can only ask once. On the rare occasions that the animal does not shake in acquiescence, he will never be killed. This is why you see some old goats hanging out at temples: they refused to be killed and were left at the temple.

After the sacrifice, the animal is dragged to spread the blood.

Video 3: Young Water Buffalo Sacrifice

These sacrifices all took place at the Kathmandu Palace Square Heritage Site Office. It’s a government office (hence the military presence). They killed 2 water buffalo and 6 or 7 goats that morning. Nearby at the police headquarters, over 100 animals were slaughtered during Dasain.