The hill state of Himachal Pradesh may see the age-old tradition of ‘animal sacrifice’ back in practice after three years gap with some riders, as per interim relief by the Supreme Court.
In an interim order on petitions against ban on ‘animal sacrifice’ at religious places and congregations imposed by Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2014, the Apex court said, “If any slaughter of animals is done for purposes involved in the petitions, it shall be done in an area set up in accordance with law. The Municipal Authority shall ensure such compliance.”
The court order dated 10 April, 2017 said that the Animal Welfare Board of India and another respondent in the matter may be heard while setting up such area.
The HC judgement was challenged by Kullu Kardar Sangh and Maheshwar Singh, chief care-taker of Lord Raghunath (the main deity in Kullu). A ‘Kardar’ is the care-taker of deity.
“It is a big relief. The people in the hill state have deep faith on deities and the practice of animal sacrifice for them. It’s an integral part of our tradition and culture,” said petitioner, Maheshwar Singh, who is descendant of erstwhile rulers of Kullu and is senior BJP leader.
Singh said he had already appealed to the people to make good use of the interim relief and that they should shun merciless killing of animals for sustainability of the centuries old tradition.
He said the ‘animal sacrifice’ would now be carried out in Kullu Dusshehra festival this year in the Lanka Bekar area in Kullu in accordance with law. The Municipal Committee would be approached to construct an enclosure there.
With the HC ban on ‘animal sacrifice’ in Himachal Pradesh in 2014, the age-old practice of sacrificing animals on the conclusion of Kullu Dussehra, a centuries-old festival, had to be discontinued.
For symbolic sacrifices, coconuts had substituted animals (a buffalo, a male sheep, a fish, a crab and a chicken) as offering to appease gods and goddesses at the culmination of the week-long- festivities. It was all done in tight security as it turned out to be an issue of departure from the psycho-cultural belief in hill society.
The High Court in its judgement dated September 1, 2014 had banned animal sacrifice at religious places.
HC bench comprising Justice Rajeev Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur had observed, “A startling revelation has been made as thousands of animals are sacrificed every year in the name of worship. Sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to innocent animals. They cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease a god or deity in a barbaric manner."