Oinam Sunil, 16 Oct, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GUWAHATI: Like every year, Guwahati's historic Kamakhya temple attracted the wrath of animal rights activists for patronising animal sacrifice, particularly during Durga Puja.
The activists cannot do much to stop the practice unless Assam implements the Animals and Birds Sacrifice Prohibition Act like Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
Sangeeta Goswami of the People for Animals NGO says 20 buffaloes, 3000 goats and thousands of pigeons and ducks were sacrificed at Kamakhya during this year's Puja.
However, temple authorities say the figures are exaggerated."We know 20 buffaloes and some goats were sacrificed this year. How can 3,000 goats be sacrificed in a temple in three days? It is just impossible,"said Nabakanta Sarma, secretary of Kamakhya Debuttar Board, the governing body of the temple.
Kamakhya temple, situated atop Neelachal Hills in Guwahati, was built in reverence to Goddess Kamakhya or Sati, who was one of the numerous incarnations of Goddess Durga or Goddess Shakti. Cooch King Nara Narayana rebuilt the temple in 1665 after it suffered destruction at the hands of foreign invaders.
A leaf out of history
The tradition of animal sacrifice dates back to proto-historic Harappa from where seals depicting the practice have been found. In Hinduism, there are both vedic and non-vedic (mainly tribal) traditions of the practice.
Vaishnav protagonists eschewing sacrifice worship Ram and Krishna both of whom were known hunters.
Shaivite cults generally shun sacrifice. Bhairav, a god from this pantheon, is an exception with followers offering both animals and liquor.
Reform movements since the Bhakti movement of the 15th and 16th centuries have brought about symbolic sacrifices in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country including Bihar. Rice and til have become substitutes for lambs, bulls and goats while other symbolic sacrifices include coconuts, betelnuts and pumpkins.
What the law says
Since the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, does not prohibit animal sacrifice at religious places, states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Himachal and Andhra Pradesh, have brought another act into effect — Animals and Birds Sacrifice Prohibition Act — to ban the practice.