As befitting a country whose patron deity is The Lord of Animals, Nepal’s autumn festival cycle is about offering buffaloes, goats and fowl to the goddesses, and worshipping cows, dogs and even crows.
But our reverence for animals does not carry over into our day-to-day treatment of the animals in our midst. Owners are unmindful of how firecrackers frighten pets, municipalities lynch dogs, abandoned cattle roam the highways, buffalo calves die of suffocation in the backs of lorries, and the ultimate in cruelty: Gadimai Mela. How a country treats its animals tells us a lot about its culture.
All this fatalistic brutality hardens us as a society, and translates into abuse of fellow human beings. State neglect condemns many to die due to lack of health care, and decrepit roads kill 2,000 people every year. No one has atoned for war crimes committed during the war. For a decade, Mohamad Aftab Alam got away with burning dozens alive in a brick kiln. An excavator driver in Baitadi last week swung his boom at people, injuring eight.
For festivals to be really about the triumph of good over evil, we have to fall back on what all religions teach us: compassion, tolerance, non-violence against sentient beings and a reverence for nature.
In an Animal Farm
Waiting till the cows come home, Kunda Dixit
Saving Nepal’s last wild dogs, Yadav Ghimirey
A dog with altitude, Sonam Choekyi Lama