Devastating Nepal Earthquake Was Punishment For Eating Beef, Say Politicians

Indian politicians have blamed Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal, which has killed nearly 4,000 so far, on the Hindu religious offense of eating beef.

Sakshi Maharaj, a member of parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janatiya Party (BJP), was quoted by The Times of India saying “the Nepal earthquake was bound to happen” because Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the rival Congress party, “eats beef, and goes to the holy shrine without purifying himself.”

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Gandhi recently visited the Kedarnath temple, a prominent Hindu shrine and site of pilgrimage. The trip may have been a response to his public image: the BJP, which espouses religiously Hindu-inflected Indian nationalism, has long criticized Gandhi for his perceived secularity, wealth and membership in an elite political family.

Laws in many of India’s states restrict or forbid the slaughter of cows, though India is still the world’s top exporter of the meat — primarily from the slaughter of buffalo, not cattle.

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The widely recognized Hindu ban on eating beef is a relatively recent innovation. Kancha Ilaiah, an Indian  professor of social history, said in a recent interview that “historically, all Indian masses … used to eat beef” and that despite some Hindu activists’ attempt to promote vegetarianism for all Indians, “meat has always been part” of society in a country of immense religious and cultural diversity. A “cow protection movement” arose during British colonial control of India, partly to increase Hindus’ solidarity in contrast to Muslims.

Nepal, which is majority-Hindu, prohibits the slaughter of cows entirely. Sadhvi Prachi, a leader in a BJP-aligned group, the Vishva Hindu Parishad. She has previously said that people who slaughter cows “have no right to live in India.”

Gadhimai festival – thought to be the world’s largest animal sacrifice ritual. Devotees believe the event brings good luck, and will encourage Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, to answer their wishes. The ritual begins before dawn in the fields outside Gadhimai temple in Bariyarpur, where a priest trickles his own blood combined with that of a rat, chicken, pigeon, goat, and pig.
Thousands of vehicles packed with families carrying goats and birds intended for sacrifice travelled along the road leading to the temple today.To end the first day of the event, thousands of buffaloes enclosed in a compound surrounded by a high wall, are decapitated by a group of specially chosen men using curved kukri knives.

On the first half of the two day event held in the jungles of Bara district, around 160 miles (100 miles) south of Katmandu, some 5,000 buffaloes were killed – and many are yet to be slaughtered. During the 2009 festival, an estimated 200,000 animals and birds were sacrificed.

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