In November 2014, three Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions attacking the ‘Gadhimai Mela’ (a five-yearly mass animal sacrifice offered at Gadhimai temple in Bariyarpur, province n. 2) were filed at the Nepal Supreme Court.

In a 52-page verdict published in August 2016 that dealt with all three petitions together, the Supreme Court went beyond the Gadhimai Festival to discuss and condemn the practice of animal sacrifice in general.

This presentation is based on the examination of the legal documents (the petitions, the responses of the defendants, and the verdict), and on interviews with the parties (the petitioners, the respondents, the lawyers and the judge) and with Nepali animal welfare activists, conducted by Chiara Letizia and Blandine Ripert in May 2017.

The presentation will discuss the verdict, and in particular the court’s call for social progress in the name of modernity, its reasoning on whether animal sacrifice is a valid expression of (true) Hinduism, and its consideration for this practice deeply rooted in Nepali society.

The court papers and the interviews reveal opposing views of Hinduism: a reformist and textual conception versus a conception based on traditional practice and devotion.