Nepalese Blood-Drinking Festivals

Lauren Tyler - Author

Jun. 18 2013, Updated 11:54 p.m. ET

A Nepalese blood-drinking festival seems creepily apt for Halloween, but in reality it is a festival in which Buddhists reflect on eating meat.

In Nepal, Buddhists drink the blood of yaks for their annual festival. The shaggy-haired creatures are related to the American equivalent of cattle, but instead the Nepalese animal grazes in the Himalayas.

Blood-drinking in Nepal is particularly common because yak blood is thought to have medicinal properties and plenty of other healthful benefits, NPRreports.

Once or twice a year, villagers trek to where the yaks roam in the Himalayas. After camping for about a week, villagers find a yak, then carefully slit their necks waiting for the blood to drip, they then collect it to drink it while it is still hot.

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Then, the animals are set free. Once they are let free, the yaks simply run away, most of the time.

Groups of villagers trek together to camp at incredibly high altitudes, usually around 4,000 meters above sea level. The campsite turns into a bit of a party scene, says anthropologist Mark Turin in the Yale Himalaya Initiative.

Turin has attended a number of Nepalese blood-drinking festivals in which about 70 people will attend. He has spent decades studying the land and nature of Nepal and the Nepalese culture.

Besides the celebratory aspects of the blood-drinking festivals, an unspoken motivation behind the trek is the possibility of yak meat.

In Nepal, the diet of the typical Nepalese consists primarily of rice, vegetables, and lentils. Even where the festivals prevail, meat is a rarity in rural areas, Turin said. Buddhists are not allowed to kill for meat, but if perchance an animal dies by accident, they can eat the meat.

Sometimes over-bleeding is a common occurrence in Nepal’s blood-drinking festivals.


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