Very few goats sacrificed during Durga Puja in flood-hit Bihar

October 10th, 2008 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Oct 10 (IANS) The devastating floods in Bihar this year have come as a blessing for thousands of goats. They have escaped being killed during Durga Puja and Dussehra when Hindus sacrifice animals as part of a ritual to appease the goddess.Animal rights activists are also a relieved lot.

The floods have rendered millions of people homeless, making it impossible for them to celebrate Durga Puja and Dussehra in the traditional way.

Unlike last year when thousands of goats were sacrificed to mark the festival, fewer animals were sacrificed during Durga Puja, that concluded Thursday.

The floods caused by the Kosi river breaching its banks affected the districts of Saharsa, Madhepura, Supaul, Araria and Purnea.

The flood-affected districts witnessed low key festivities this year.

“A few people did offer the customary animal sacrifice this year to show sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the floods,” Ranjeev, an animal rights activist in Saharsa, said.

Animal sacrifice is an age-old practice during the festival in Bihar.

Satyanarain Madan, who has been working in the flood-affected districts, said in Madhepura and nearby places hardly 10 percent animals were sacrificed at temples to appease Hindu goddess Durga.

Some flood victims living in relief camps told IANS over telephone Friday that they celebrated the festival without any animal sacrifice. ”It was not at all possible, we are fighting for survival,“ Manoj Paswan, a small time businessman in Supaul, said. Paswan’s shop was badly damaged in the flood.

Duhna Sahni, a flood victim at a relief camp in Saharsa, said he has been sacrificing a goat each year for the past two decades, but this year he was unable to. “I am eagerly waiting to return to my village. I will sacrifice an animal next year if everything returns to normal,” he said.

Sanjay Singh, an agent dealing with animals in the cattle market, said business was dull due to low demand of animals for sacrifice. ”The numbers of animals sold in most of the markets was disappointing,” Singh said.

It has been over one-and-a-half months since the Kosi breached its embankment in upstream Nepal, flooding hundreds of villages in Bihar.

More than three million people were rendered homeless and over one million cattle were affected by floods. The calamity has claimed over 191 lives, according to official estimates.

Officials said 993,992 people have been evacuated to safer places till date. About 370,000 people have taken shelter in over 300 relief camps in the flood-affected areas.

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