Pigs of God is a controversial Taiwanese festival and contest where pigs that have been force-fed for years are publicly slaughtered, then put on floats and paraded through the city streets.
The origins of this gruesome event aren’t very clear, but while some say it’s part of the religious beliefs of the Hakkas, an ethnic group with a population of over four million in Taiwan, animal rights activists claim that in the last few decades it has become a simple meaningless contest used by families to show off their wealth and power. They are currently fighting for the banning of a clear form of animal cruelty, and the substitution of real pigs with ones made of dough, rice or flowers.
Getting a pig ready to enter the Pigs of God festival takes up to two years. During this period of time animals are constantly force-fed to a point where they are incapable of standing. This kind of procedure is both psychologically and physically damaging to the pigs, who often suffer from organ failure and pressure sores caused by lying down for long periods of time. Some owners castrate the pigs without anesthesia, in the belief this will help them get even fatter, and then pen them down so they cannot move.
Photo via Craig Ferguson Images
Days before the Pigs of God contest, the animals are reportedly force-fed sand and heavy metals like led, to make them as heavy as possible. On the day of the festival, they are brutally dragged in front of a huge crowd, onto a scale, before having their throats slit. The animals are terrified, they scream loudly and some of them can’t even control their bowls, but this never seems to impress the public, who returns every year to Shanhsia, New Taipei City, to watch this twisted spectacle. After they’ve been killed, the fattest pigs are painted, put up on colorful floats and paraded around the city. The pigs often exceed 700 kilograms in weight, and there have been reports of some weighing around 900 kilos, which is just disturbing…
The funny thing is, force-feeding of animals and slaughtering them in public are illegal in Taiwan, but animal rights activists say the government is unwilling to do anything about what happens at the Pigs of God festival, for fear of backlash from numerous religious groups who claim it’s part of their cultural heritage.