efe-epaKathmandu

Nepali citizens were on Thursday worshiping a Hindu goddess and sacrificing thousands of animals as the Asian country's most anticipated annual festival celebrating the victory of good over evil reached its peak.

During Dashain, Nepalese Hindu devotees worship the goddess Durga, a mother figure of power and prosperity, offering up goats, buffaloes and chicken to the deity.

Cattle markets in Nepal have been packed all week long with people buying goats, carrying them away on foot, motorbikes and even on buses, in the lead-up to "Maha Navami," the ninth day of the festivities on which most of the sacrifices take place.

It is believed that the blood of the slaughtered animals appeases the bloodthirsty goddess Kali.

Over 80 percent of the population is practicing Hindu, according to census data from 2011, and while most of its followers stick to a vegetarian diet it does not prevent them from feasting on the meat of the sacrificed livestock.

According to the president of the Nepal Livestock Traders Association, Deepak Thapa, demand for goats grows exponentially in the days leading up to the festival, and this year some 70,000 animals were expected to change hands in Kathmandu and the surrounding area.

About 80 percent of the goats sacrificed during the festivities are imported from cities in northern India, while between 15,000-20,000 are brought in from China via Tibet, according to Thapa.

Besides the sacrifices, people also hit shopping malls to buy new clothes, drink alcohol and bet on card games over the course of the 15-day festivities.