Festivals are the events of celebration commemorated by a group of people of certain culture and religion with the main purpose of gathering and enhancing mutual relationship. There are many different types of festivals throughout the world which also involve the celebration of animal festivals as per their tradition. Besides being used for transport, agriculture and being kept as pets in many parts of the world, animals are integral to customs and cultural traditions. While some are celebratory, others are horrific. Festivals act like stress relievers and balance our emotions. In the same way, animal festivals provide some relief to animals. Many festivals also have created fear among animals. Some festivals add celebration to animals whereas most of them are against animal welfare and has increased terror and pain among animals. Thus, some festivals are getting fierce objections from animal rights groups.
Humans won’t be able to survive without animals. Chickens and cows give us egg, milk, providing nourishment. Horses, donkeys and water buffaloes are as hardworking as any person, and thanks to our pets, we always have source of love and entertainment. Thus, many people of various countries celebrate animals more often and give pleasantness to them. One of such festivals is ‘Tihar’, a five-day Hindu festival held in Nepal, is giving thanks to other species. Crows, believed to be the messengers of death, are worshipped on the first day. Cows are worshipped on the third day as incarnation of Hindu Goddess Laxmi and often oxen are also worshipped on the fourth day. On the second day, man’s best friend, Dogs are celebrated which are believed that they can warn people of impending danger and even death by placing flower garlands around their neck and putting red tika on their forehead. Both street dogs and pet dogs are worshipped on this day with an aim of giving thanks to them for protecting society and our homes. Another such festival is ‘Transhumance festival’ which is the act of moving herds of livestock (mainly sheeps) to different grazing grounds depending on the season. Men and women in traditional garb lead the way, singing and dancing along the parade route in celebration of centuries-old shepherding traditions.
Thailand’s temples feed monkeys on the last Sunday of November offering fruits and cans of Cocacola which is called ‘Monkey Buffet festival’. In North Carolina, ‘Woolly Worm festival’ is celebrated in which the colour of the caterpillar can be analyzed in autumn to predict how severe the forthcoming winter will be. The 13 segments on its body are thought to correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. Indian state of Rajasthan celebrate ‘Pushkar Camel fair’ each November which is a colorful cultural event. Both the people and camels sport brilliant attire, participate in a variety of competitions, and dance to lively music. In Chile, beauty and diversity of country’s birds are celebrated in which their national bird ‘Andean condor’ is offered to be seen for people which is one of the largest flying birds in the world. ‘Elephant Festival’ is a festival celebrated in Jaipur city in Rajasthan. It is held on the day of Holi festival, usually in the month of March. The festival features Elephant polo and Elephant Dance. It begins with a beautiful procession of bedecked elephants, camels, horses and folk-dancers. The owners proudly embellish their elephants with vibrant colours, jhools (saddle cloth) and heavy jewellery. Along with these, there are many other such festivals in which both animals and humans interact and celebrate. In this way animals are source of celebration for many people in different parts of the world.
In spite of such beautiful celebrations around different parts of the world, there are also many barbaric festivals that brutally threaten animals and should cease to exist because animals are also living creatures, possess emotions and deserve chance to live. ‘Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China’ is one of them which offers superstitious beliefs among people that eating dog meat brings good luck. The canines are forced to travel long distances and crammed into crowded wire cages, the dogs languish without food or water as they await their fate. They watch on as those before them have their throats slit. Many are reportedly beaten- even burned or boiled alive. ‘Possum festival in Florida’ is another such festival in which people are made to bid on opossum and the highest bidder gets to hold the animal upside down and shake it. The reason is not known why such innocent nocturnal animals are left frightened beyond measure after this day. ‘Kots Kaal Pato festival in Mexico’ involves ducks being tied to wooden crossbeams by their feet and beaten by sticks until they die. Most ducks die in the process and ones who survive are killed later by the crowd. ‘Nem Thuong Pig Slaughter festival in Vietnam’ is a new year festival which involves painting and parading of pigs, before cutting them into halves with a sword, which is believed to bring good luck.
‘Festival of Ox or Farra do Bori in Brazil’ involves providing torture and beating oxen before burning them alive. Sometimes, their eyes are rubbed with hot pepper and scooped out. Their limbs are broken, tails snapped, and some are even doused with gasoline and set on fire. ‘Gadhimai festival in Nepal’ involves slaughtering thousands of animals like water buffaloes, pigs, goats, chickens and pigeons in name of sacrifice to the Goddess of power Gadhimai in Bariyarpur village near Indian border. This festival is ‘bloodiest festival in the planet’ killing thousands of innocent animals. ‘Tlacotalpan Bull festival in Mexico’ is a week-long event in which bulls are forced fed alcohol and then unleashed on the people of city. The people are drunk themselves and in the process of self-defence, they push, beat and throw rocks at animals and sometimes even cut their ears off. ‘UmkhosiUkweshwama festival in South Africa’ involves unarmed men keeping a bull in enclosure, releasing it, chasing it and then killing it by strangling. It is considered to be a ‘test of manhood’ and a sign of a ‘good harvest season’. ‘Toro de la Vega festival in Spain’ involves bulls to show power in which they are sometimes even stabbed to death. ‘Shearing of The Beasts in Spain’ involves animals (wild horses) wrestled to the ground, after which men and women jump on them. ‘Running of The Bulls in Spain’ is another festival in which the bulls are kept in close places for the longest time before the race and are launched into the jeering, drunken crowd, generally using an electric shock prod. ‘Deopokhari Festival In Nepal’ involves throwing a young female goat into a pond, before strangling and tearing it apart with bare hands. In such a manner, festivals are not matters of celebration but matters of killing animals brutally in the name of human’s so-called enjoyment and superstitious beliefs.
With great power comes great responsibility. While we are the most powerful species on this planet, we are still struggling to maintain balance while it comes to being responsible. World’s largest slaughter is in Gadhimai temple which is raising a great suffering in animals. Many Animal Welfare Organisations are playing a major role and Supreme Court of Nepal has also imposed strict laws, which is mitigating the problem slightly, but this has not given the satisfactory result. Animal groups, students, teachers, lawyers, artists, all want to see an end to all animals sacrifice across religious, cultural, caste, ethnic and linguistic groups in Nepal. In 2014, HSI/India and AWNN’s global campaign against tanimal massacre captured the public imagination when thousands of national and international supporters expressed their ire and displeasure against ruthless killing. The Yulin Municipal Government has repeatedly said that it is not able to stop the dog meat festival as it claims it do not exist as an official event. Dog meat is not banned in China that’s why many dogs are brutally killed and sold in their many markets. Thus, protests are required worldwide.
Many human festivals which involve music and firing different firecrackers during different festivals like Dipawali is also matter of threats among animals giving them absolute fear and feeling of hatred upon human beings. Festival of colour, Holi also may impact upon animal health as street animals are coloured carelessly by people without realising their impact upon their health as colours may cause skin allergies and hair loss, blindness, respiratory disorders and also act as slow poison and water balloons may cause mental threat and stress upon animals. Also different musical events and festivals in Western countries have created impact upon wildlife and many of them have left their wildlife.
Animal rights supporters believe that it is morally wrong to use or exploit animals in anyway in the name of festivals and that human beings should not do so. Animals improve welfare of human in many ways, ranging from providing companionship, improving mental health facilitating rescues during natural disasters, for a number of species as a source of food and ultimately creating ecological balance in the environment. Dogs are used in therapy, and as aids for people with disabilities, provide important benefits. Moreover, they can also be used to detect drugs, and herd livestock. To ensure the welfare of such partner, we need to offer them good breeding programmes, quality veterinary care and offer celebration with them and celebrate and originate new festivals for increasing human-animal relationship rather than brutal killing in the name of festivals.
We may rather improve our relationship with animals at first by abolishing all the brutal festivals throughout the world which involve threatening, killing animals for making peaceful, interactive and healthy world. Animals also deserve to get enjoyment after treating us. There is considerable report to suggest that regular positive human contact is a powerful and reliable method to dampen stress and fear reactions in different animals which may increase production and improve animal health. Thus, festivals should offer celebration and positive human-animal interaction keeping in view animal rights and welfare. Accordingly the relationship between animals and festivals are to be made delightful for offering our thankfulness to animals for making our peaceful, healthy and happy world.