Goat prices in the city have almost doubled due to soaring demand for the Gadhimai festival that began Friday. While regular goat meat costs Rs 600 per kg, sellers have been charging as much as Rs 1,000 per kg for sacrificial goats. The Gadhimai festival is celebrated every five years with a mass sacrifice of goats and buffaloes, among other animals.
A total of 125,000 goats have been sold from the Kalaiya Agriculture Market in the last three months for the Gadhimai festival. According to Saroj Kumar Shah, one of the main traders here, around 5,000 goats are being sold daily at the Haat Bazaar which takes place on Mondays and Fridays.
Other Haat Bazaars are also flooded with festival shoppers. A mid-sized live goat costs from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000, said Shah. The animals are usually brought to the market from various parts of the district, Makwanpur and Indian border towns.
Sudesh Kumar Gupta from Kabahi-5 is worried about being able to buy a goat for the festival that comes around only once every five years. “I came here to buy goats with an estimated budget of Rs 4,000, but I can’t find any goats costing less than Rs 5,000,” he said. “As we have been following the tradition of sacrificing a goat during the festival for a long time, we have to buy one anyhow; even if I have to borrow money.”
Similarly, Nisha Kumari from Telkuwa said, “If we don’t offer goats to Goddess Gadhimai, she will be angry as we have pledged to make a sacrifice.” Gokul Sharma, who came to buy goats for the festival, said that they were costlier in Birgunj than in Kalaiya.
Meanwhile, there has been a growing outcry against the mass slaughter as devotees make preparations to appease the deity with the blood sacrifice.
The organiser of the festival said that 200,000 goats were expected to be slaughtered during this year’s festival. The mass sacrifice is scheduled to take place on Saturday, according to the festival committee.
Samshul Haq, a meat shop owner in Kalaiya, said that prices of mainly sacrificial goats had soared over the last one month. He added that goat prices rose due to a short supply with the Indian border police force stepping up vigilance against the export of animals for sacrificial purposes.
Siya Ram Kushwaha, a committee member of the Gadhimai festival, said that people usually make sacrifices of animals as they feel that such an act will make their wishes come true. Around 65,000 goats were butchered during the last festival in 2009. A medium-sized goat cost Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 at that time.