Over 200 animals sacrificed at Orissa temple

June 17th, 2008 - 8:12 am ICT by IANS  

Kendrapada (Orissa), June 16 (IANS) Over 200 goats and lambs were sacrificed by devotees at a temple in an Orissa village to appease the deity during a three-day annual festival. The animals were sacrificed at the altar of the Maa Ramachandi temple in Kendrapada district’s Srirampur village, some 90 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, Sunday despite the deployment of dozens of policemen and strong protests by animal lovers and rights activists.

“Goats and lambs were lined up before the (goddess) Ramachandi and the final stroke of Bhaskar Rana’s sword did it all,” a witness told IANS Monday.

Rana has been sacrificing animals at the temple altar for the past two decades, since he took over the job after his father’s death.

The sacrificial ritual is performed in Srirampur village every year during the Raja festival, which is observed across Orissa on the last day of the Hindu month of Jyestha (mid-June).

According to a legend, the festival marks the changes mother earth undergoes and it marks the start of the agricultural year. After the end of the three-day festival, the ceremonial ploughing of the earth takes place.

“It (Srirampur) is the only village in Orissa where devotees sacrifice animals during the festival,” animal rights activist Manoj Satapathy told IANS. “They perform the rituals with a hope that the deity will fulfill all their wishes.”

Said a police official: “We have been trying to motivate the villagers to stop this barbaric practice but they are not ready to give up. We cannot stop them forcibly.

“Sacrificing animals has been the family tradition of the villagers for generations. Three decades ago, devotees used to sacrifice buffaloes but the practice has been stopped because they can’t afford it,” he said.

Devotees scramble to touch the blood of the freshly sacrificed animal, believed to be a good omen, while some even smear it on their forehead. Once the ritual is over, devotees carry the carcasses home for a feast.

“Since time immemorial we have been dong this and the district administration or police have no right to interfere in this religious tradition,” said Swadhin Panda, one of the priests.

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