Animal sacrifices marked the end of the famous Kullu Dussehra here on Wednesday afternoon.
Former Raja of Kullu Maheshwar Singh,a senior BJP leader and former MP,who leads the procession of dieties called Jaleb in local dialet with Raghunath riding a ceremonial chariot,said the animals that are sacrificed are first worshiped and then offered to deities.
This is a practice being followed from time immemorial. Its linked to peoples strong faith and religious traditions in the Kullu valley, he told The Indian Express at Dhalpur maidana temporary abode of Raghunath and 226 deities for past one week.
The BJP leader is also the chief kardar of Raghunath and is residing at a specially fortified camp at Dhalpur maidan with his entire family.
Singh defended the tradition and said earlier too animal rights activists like Maneka Gandhi had written to him and opposed the sacrifice. I said no one has a right to ask me for putting an end to the tradition since thats what Kullu Dussehra is all about, he said.
In my letter to Maneka Gandhi,I posed her questions about thousands of animals being slaughtered in Delhi and other towns in extremely cruel manner. You cant draw a parallel between our slaughter with rest of the country, he said.
Devotees also take away the meat, he said.
Deputy Commissioner Kullu B M Nanta said the animal sacrifice is a religious tradition being observed for years by the kardars and devotees. Administration has no role in it.
Similar views were also expressed by SP Kullu Abhishek Dular,who said,Certain exemptions are allowed on occasions.
The Kullu Dussehra,which starts on the day when Raghunaths chariot reaches Dhalpur maidan,doesnt involve burning of effigies of Ravan,Kumbkarana and Meghnath.
We,in our tradition,believe that Ravan was a highly respectable personality and acquired stature sheerly through his sadhana and worship. So,we dont burn him and there is only a symbolic Lanka dehan at the end of the Dussehra.
Meanwhile,a RTI activist Lawan Thakur submitted a petition to Chief Minister Prem Kumar asking him to put an end to the tradition of carrying Raja of Kullu in a palanquin during the festival.
Its against the Fundamental Rights and reflection of slavery, he said in his petition.
But Singh dismissed it. Its a question of tradition and faith,which only people of Kullu can understand, he said.