29 November, 2009

L’Occident « hypocrite » face aux sacrifices d’animaux

http://tchadonline.com/video-photosl’occident-hypocrite-face-aux-sacrifices-danimaux/

VIDEO & PHOTOSL’Occident « hypocrite » face aux sacrifices d’animaux
TOL : 05:35 LES OBSERVATEURS 27/11/2009 / NÉPAL Tous les cinq ans, près d’un million d’Hindous participent à un festival, dans l’ouest du Népal, où l’on sacrifie buffles, chèvres, coqs et pigeons par milliers. Les défenseurs des droits des animaux, dont l’actrice française Brigitte Bardot, ont tenté d’y mettre fin. Mais pour l’une de nos observatrices népalaises, ce rite hindou n’est pas si différent de ce qui se passe, quotidiennement, dans les abattoirs modernes. Le festival a eu lieu cette année les 24 et 25 novembre. Il attire des Hindous du Népal, mais aussi d’Inde, où les sacrifices animaliers sont interdits. Les prêtres affirment que les 150 000 bêtes abattues dans le cadre des festivités sont autant d’offrandes à Gadhimai, déesse du pouvoir. Ce festival constituerait la plus grande cérémonie de sacrifices d’animaux au monde. Avertissement: ces images peuvent choquer. Vidéo postée sur Flickr Par Sylvia Vizcaino et Paul Meyer. « Je me dis que, au moins, ce sacrifice montre au gens comment sont faites leurs boulettes de viande » Népalaise, Sushma Joshi est écrivain et cinéaste. Elle tient le blog « The Global and the Local« . Lors d’un repas entre amis, chez moi, à Katmandou, au cours duquel on a mangé des ‘buffalo momo’ [boulettes de viande, ndlr], J’ai dit : ‘Je me demande quel traumatisme doivent subir les participants au festival de Gadhimai en voyant la souffrance qu’ils infligent aux animaux !’ Je pensais que les humains qui les massacrent devaient ressentir aussi de la douleur. L’un de mes amis ne partageait pas mon avis. Il m’a dit : ‘Pense aux croyances de ces gens. Ils sont persuadés que le sacrifice va leur porter chance. Ils voient l’événement différemment. Pour l’élite urbaine de Katmandou qui achète de la viande dans les boucheries – où l’on ne voit pas l’étape de l’abattage -, ce rite sacrificiel dérange terriblement. C’est aussi le cas en Occident. Mais, comme me l’expliquait mon ami, celui qui comprend les croyances de ces gens comprend que ce rite est aussi un moment de grande spiritualité. Certes, la culture ne justifie pas tout. Mais le sacrifice de Gadhimai ne devrait pas choquer autant les familiers de l’abattage électrique, en Europe et aux États-Unis par exemple. Combien d’animaux sont tués tous les jours dans les abattoirs du globe ? Pour la population népalaise, pauvre, la viande demeure un luxe. Pour plusieurs participants, le festival de Ghadimai est en effet la seule occasion de l’année au cours de laquelle ils peuvent manger de la viande. C’est pourquoi je trouve hypocrite de décrier cet événement – alors que la consommation de viande en Occident est bien supérieure. Gadhimai ne fait que montrer ce qui se passe tous les jours dans les abattoirs du monde entier. Chaque jour, les humains sacrifient un nombre impressionnant d’animaux, notamment dans les sociétés où l’on consomme de la viande deux fois par jour. La seule différence est que, à Gadhimai, on voit la violence avec laquelle les bêtes sont tuées. En tant que végétarienne, je me dis que, au moins, ce sacrifice montre aux gens comment sont faites leurs boulettes de viande. » Nepal Writer and filmaker

28 November, 2009

Are we civilised yet?


Sushma Joshi
Kathmandu Post

NOV 28 - In a gathering at my Kathmandu house where we incidentally sat around and ate buffalo momo dumplings, I said, “I wonder what psychological trauma the people around Gadhimai feel through all the pain of the sacrificed animals!” My logic, that somehow the violence inflicted on the animals must reflect on the humans, and that somehow this would lead to more violence, was smartly counteracted by a learned friend (he asked me not to use his name but identify him, tongue-in-cheek, as “learned friend”) who said, “But think about their beliefs. This is a deeply engrained tradition of animal sacrifice that goes back hundreds of years. They believe that the sacrifice brings them good luck, and you can’t beat that.”

The talk then moved to gruesome descriptions of animal sacrifice in Aacham where men make 500 cuts on an animal before slaughtering it, and another event in which people get the bulls drunk before leading them to a blood-soaked death fight in Bhaktapur. “The people are at fault for the violence, not the bulls!” said one listener indignantly, when we were trying to figure out, in our ayla-muddled states, whether the bulls or the humans were more cruel.

For the urban elite in Kathmandu, who get their meat from butcher shops where the slaughtering is safely hidden out of sight, the 15,000 slaughtered buffaloes was cause for an outcry. And so too for the people in Europe and the U.S.A. But as my friend explained to me, the deep workings of human belief may make these sacrifices less of a terrible animal massacre and more of a profound moment of connection with the universe for the participants of this festival.

If the debate is about how civilized we are, then the debate comes down to animal rights versus human rights, said my learned friend. The rights to follow traditional faith-based practice is enshrined in the Constitution. If we are saying that Muslims and Christians should be allowed to follow their own faiths, and so should the indigenous groups, surely the deeply engrained ancient practice of animal sacrifice, which goes back a very long way, should also be respected. People come to make promises to the goddess and use other animals and plants — rats and coconuts — as part of this faith-based practice. This is not just a random slaughter, but a massive show of faith.

In Kathmandu last year, the Newars rioted when the government stopped funding the 108 animals needed for a sacrifice. The government had to give in and fund them to stop the public unrest. Surely, if the state recognizes sacrifice in this matter, it should do so also in this new matter?

And besides, said my learned friend (you see, he should really be writing this op-ed, not me), the Dalit groups, spurred by NGOs, did an andolan at the last sacrifice, in which they said Dalits would no longer pick up the meat associated with the sacrifice since this was demeaning. This year, after a private company had been contracted to pick up the meat at a fee of Rs. 5,100,000 (around US$ 65,000) and had hired 700 workers to get this done, the Dalit groups stopped the company, saying it was their traditional right to collect the meat. Surely, asks my learned friend, this kind of political machination has to stop, and people living in a democratic country must allow private companies to fulfil a business contract.

Besides the local intricacies of what goes on at Gadhimai (frankly I don’t know a whole lot about this event, and would hesitate to write about this issue if it weren’t for the way it is being promoted as the biggest animal slaughter of all times in the international news), there is the international response. I am being asked my opinion on this by French news outlets and Swedish radio stations, and my response is: Ugh… I got a degree in anthropology, and I would have to study this event a bit more in depth before I can make a comment.

Of course, culture doesn’t excuse everything. But for those of us jaded by the hidden stories of slaughterhouses of the U.S.A. and Europe, where animals are stunned with electric stun guns and killed in much larger masses everyday, the Gadhimai sacrifice can appear to be just a tiny blip of self-righteous protest from the Western world. How many Gadhimai-like sacrifices happen every single day on cattle farms across the meat-eating Western world? Nepal, incidentally, has a poor population for whom meat remains a luxury — for many of those doing the sacrifice, this may be the only meat they will eat throughout the entire year. So there is just a tiny bit of hypocrisy associated with those who protest this event — if only because the global footprint of meat consumption is so much more gigantic on the Western world.

Gadhimai brings to surface what happens every single day on cattle farms across the planet. People sacrifice gigantic numbers of animals everyday, especially for those populations that eat meat more than twice a day. The only difference in this is that we see the crudeness with which animals are killed in this event. I, an aspiring vegetarian, almost support sacrifices for this reason — because it provides a crude mirror for the world to see what exactly goes into their plates when they eat some dumplings.



(The author is trying hard to eat less meat)

26 November, 2009

France 24: West “hypocritical” to protest Hindu mass animal slaughter

Every five years, Hindus travel for miles to participate in Nepal's mass sacrifice of tens of thousands of buffaloes, goats, roosters and pigeons. Animal rights activists, including French actress Brigitte Bardot, have attempted to put an end to the tradition. But as one of our Observers there points out, the five-yearly mass slaughter is no worse than the daily dealings of a modern abattoir.
Held on November 24 -25, this year's festival in southern Nepal attracted up to a million Hindus, many from neighbouring India where the practice is banned. Priests say that over 150,000 animals were offered to the goddess of power, Gadhimai. It is thought to be the world's biggest animal sacrifice.
WARNING: you may find these images upsetting.



Video by Flick users Sylvia Vizcaino and Paul Meyer


“Gadimai brings to light what happens every single day in cattle farms across the planet”





Sushma Joshi is a writer and filmmaker from Nepal. She writes the blog "The Global and the Local". 
At a gathering at my house in Kathmandu where, incidentally, we were sat around eating buffalomomo [meat dumplings], I said: ‘I wonder what psychological trauma the people around Gadhimai feel through all the pain of the sacrificed animals!' My logic, that somehow the violence inflicted on the animals must reflect on the humans, was smartly counteracted by a friend of mine who said: ‘But think about their beliefs. They believe that the sacrifice brings them good luck; they may experience the event in a very different way from what you imagine'.
For the urban elite in Kathmandu, who get their meat from butcher shops where the slaughtering part is safely hidden out of sight, the mass slaughter was cause for outcry. And so too for the people in Europe and the US. But as my friend explained to me, the deep and profound workings of human belief may make these sacrifices less of a terrible animal massacre spree and more of a profound moment of connection with the universe for the participants of this festival.
Of course, culture doesn't excuse everything. But for those of us jaded by the stories of the US and Europe's hidden slaughterhouses, where animals are shot with electric stun guns and killed in much larger numbers everyday, the Gadhimai sacrifice shouldn't cause any concern. How many Gadhimai-like sacrifices happen every single day in cattle farms across the meat-eating world? Nepal, incidentally, has a poor population for whom meat remains a luxury - for many of those doing the sacrificing, this may be the only meat they eat during the entire year. So there is just a tiny bit of hypocrisy associated with those who protest this event - if only because the global footprint of meat consumption is so much more gigantic in the western world.
Gadhimai brings to light what happens every single day in cattle farms across the planet. People sacrifice huge numbers of animals everyday, especially for those populations where meat is eaten more than twice a day. The only difference in this is that we see the crudeness with which animals are killed in this event. I, an aspiring vegetarian, almost support sacrifices for this reason - because it provides a mirror for the world to see exactly what goes onto their plates when they eat some dumplings."

Go to the France 24 website for full coverage, including photographs.

19 November, 2009

DECENTERING AND RECENTERING

SUSHMA JOSHI
Kathmandu Post
November 19: When I was in college, our American campus was abuzz with students talking about “deccentering” power. This decentering happened to all sorts of power centers, from white men to Europe to English Literature. White men, who as everybody knows are the center of the world, were a particular target: bright undergraduates would try to pull apart their Eurocentric patriarchal hegemony all the time with glee. Other times, they decentered language, or decentered meaning, or decentered other Grand Narratives of this nature. My primary emotion about all this decentering was that it was a thrilling process initially, but then as the years wore on and people went on deconstructing these structures but not providing an alternative, things started to feel a bit destabilized. I started, in other words, to feel like I had lost my moorings. If everything from the slippery meaning of words to the shape of thought was up for grabs, then what exactly could I believe in?

Coming back to Nepal after a month in the rather stable island of Bali, I can’t help feeling Nepal’s political scene is undergoing a similar process. Like a gang of college students, our political leaders have taken up the task of decentering power with a zeal. The problem is that they are not providing alternatives. Its okay to deconstruct old feudal structures like the Army and the bureaucracy, but its not okay to leave it all hanging in the middle without an alternative, like an unfinished piece of bad art. So lets get rid of everything old and musty, everything from the statues that used to adorn the corners of Ratna Park to the old five zones and 14 districts. Now what?

The question that occurs to me also is that can there be a functioning nation-state without a strong and stable core? Can Nepal exist in its profoundly decentered state, where we can afford to have 600 CA members—even India with one billion people has less people in Parliament than us--who represent all ethnicities impartially? Or will all this end and we’ll all have to get on one day with business—going back to governing a country of multiple ethnicities in which not all groups will get representation and parity at all governmental offices, where Tharus may dominate in one area and Madhesis will dominate in another, where choices will have to be made and where health posts will have to be manned and hospitals run and food depots brought back to functioning order? Army generals may have to decide to swear an oath to the people and the country rather than to an individual who heads a party or a monarchial system? That one day, we may all have to go back to swearing allegiance to some ideal larger than a party or an ethnic identity or a position in the government?

Nationalism has a bad rap in places like Nepal, where anything associated with the old system raises hackles. But can a nation-state exist if people don’t participate and repeat exercises which form the sense of national identity? I can hear the children singing the national anthem even now, but that’s about all I can see happening on the Nepali national pride front. You go to India and you know you’re in India—because the people themselves are reminding you every few moments where you are. Bollywood repeats the motif. So do their non-resident Indians. So do their writers, filmmakers, artists. So do their businesspeople and their politicians and their diplomats. Our diplomats get posted to New York as UN ambassadors and the next thing you know they’ve gotten a Green Card and migrated to Queens. Or maybe New Jersey.

I was in Humla a few months back, and the area was reeling from a series of bad winter droughts and a low-rainfall monsoon. The people, who’d planted apples in the hopes of selling it to urban markets, had seen their hopes dashed as none of the commercial carriers or governmental agencies had helped them carry their produce to market. The trees were loaded with fruit but everything else was in short supply. The cost of salt and soap was astronomical. In this environment, one man from Humla said, “We should have joined either China or India. At least they looked out for their people. Our leaders will not do anything for us. We can expect nothing from these people.”

When I came back and told some folks back in Kathmandu, they were shocked. “I hope you won’t write that in the papers,” they said. Then why am I writing it? Why am I writing the fact that the sense of disillusionment with the political process is so profound, especially with the poorest of the poor, that they would prefer to choose another nation-state, one which exudes a greater sense of coherence?

One Nepali migrant in Bombay told me he had gone each year to Mumbai for work for a decade, but he’d never once stopped in Kathmandu. That city, he said, was not on his way. His village and Bombay were his two worlds. For many Nepalis like this man, the nation-states of India and China may already provide direct benefits—in the form of decades of employment, remittances, cheap goods, and produces—than Nepal itself. For this reason, Nepal has to try extra hard to justify its existence as a nation-state. But where is that justification? Where are the Gandhis and Nehrus of Nepal who’d make us see, “yes, this is our country, and we need to work towards its well-being by putting its interest above everything else”?

In Bali, I was amused to see how people came there to “center” themselves. “Decentering”, it appeared, was an undergraduate phenomena, just as “centering” was a post-graduate one. Unlike college ten years ago, the discourse now was on mind and body connection. The act of “centering” oneself would bring the focus on the greater unity between not just mind and body, but the human being with the larger universe.

After decentering comes recentering. Nepal will remain an endless football of competing donor interests unless we get a group of people who believe in “centering” their individual selves towards the national interest. We have to create a center that’s not an all devouring, rapacious center, but one which looks out for the larger interest, as other centers of other nation-states have done. This centering process can go further—just as the mind and body are connected, we need to see the political process connected to the people. Otherwise, through default and necessity, through the simple faith that people put in those who take care of them, we might end up losing our self to either side of our big neighbours. Unless some visionaries with greater stakes take up leadership roles, we may end up dead as—forgive the pun—a cold yam.