Cheers and protests as thousands of buffalo are decapitated at start of festival in Nepal honouring Hindu goddess Gadhimai
Gallery: Hindu sacrifice ceremony starts
The world's biggest animal sacrifice began in Nepal today with the killing of the first of more than 250,000 animals as part of a Hindu festival in the village of Bariyapur, near the border with India.
The event, which happens every five years, began with the decapitation of thousands of buffalo, killed in honour of Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power.
With up to a million worshippers on the roads near the festival grounds, this year's fair seems more popular than ever, despite vocal protests from animals rights groups who have called for it to be banned. "It is the traditional way, " explained 45-year old Manoj Shah, a Nepali driver who has been attending the event since he was six, "If we want anything, and we come here with an offering to the goddess, within five years all our dreams will be fulfilled." .
Crowds thronged the roads and camped out in the open, wrapped in blankets against the cool mist. The festivities included a ferris wheel, fortune-telling robots and stalls broadcasting music and offering tea and sugary snacks.