Less than a month after the Himachal Pradesh High Court banned animal sacrifice at religious places during fairs and festivals, the caretakers of deities, at their rare congregation, decided to continue with the age-old Hindu tradition.
The development has created a piquant situation for law enforcing agencies, which had earlier told the caretakers body that High Court orders would be enforced strictly to stop animal sacrifice of any sort. Its immediate effect will be in Kullu Dussehra on October 3 wherein animal sacrifice is part of the rituals.
The Dharam Sansad, which is termed as ‘Jagati Puch’, witnessed an overwhelming presence of 260 representatives of the local deities
“Just in one voice every caretaker of the 260 deities spoke of upholding of the tradition and appealed the High Court to reconsider the order on ban as it goes against the accepted traditions and customs approved by supreme deities”, said Maheshwar Singh, an erstwhile raja of Kullu,who is chief kardar (caretaker) of Lord Raghunath.
For more than two hours, the Dharam Sansad deliberated on the High Court banning the animal sacrifice.
Maheshwar Singh, a sitting MLA from Kullu and a former MP, said, “Kardars Sangh had already made an appeal to the High Court to allow the old tradition. I appeared in the High Court through a review petition and presented all the facts to seek justice. I was told that High Court on Friday had rejected the plea but neither have I received the order nor any authentic communication. Even today at the Jagati Puch I made an appeal to the judiciary not to create any unwarranted situation”.
Singh, however, said that the huge gathering at the Dharam Sansad had surprised him.
Some of them spoke in extreme humility and others criticised the government for trying to interfere with rights to worship in the grab of prevention of cruelty to animals, which infact exempts animal sacrifice in the name of religion. “The court has unfortunately ignored this part,” said one caretaker.
Dot Ram Thakur, president of Dev Samaj, made it clear at the Dharam Sansad that animal sacrifice is an important part of the religious beliefs in the area since ages. He said, “There cannot be changes in the tradition as it is the order of the Gods and people have to follow. No religious festival will be completed if animal sacrifice is not carried out.”