Court gets in way of animal sacrifices in Himachal temples

Shimla: To curb the practice of animal sacrifice in temples, the Himachal Pradesh High Court today issued orders directing the district administrations to ensure that no person throughout the state of HP shall sacrifice any animal in any place of religious worship.

Trophy horns nailed at Rakchham Temple, Kinnaur (Photo Courtesy - Geeta)
Trophy horns nailed at Rakchham Temple, Kinnaur (Photo Courtesy – Geeta)

Hearing a petition, the division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur observed that a question of great public importance has been raised.

The bench observed, “A startling revelation has been made the manner in which thousands of animals are sacrificed every year in the name of religious worship. Sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to the innocent animals. The innocent animals cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease the God/deity in a barbaric manner. Compassion is basic tenets in all the religions. The practice of animal sacrifice is a social evil and is required to be curbed.”

The judges also recorded, “We have also gone through the photographs placed on record the manner in which animal sacrifice is executed in the name of religion.”

Animal sacrifice is conducted in some temples of Nirmand and Anni of Kullu district, at God Dev, Kamru Nag and Kamaksha Devi temple in Mandi and in some temples of Rohru, Rampur, Kotkhai, Jhakri and Chirgaon of Shimla district and in Shillai area of Sirmaur district.

Having termed animal sacrifice as a social evil, the judges then hold the practice as a grey area observing, “It is a grey area whether the animals sacrifice can be termed as a religious practice or not. The faith, ritualistic worship and its continuation must change in modern era. People are required to be sensitized on this issue by the state government.”

After having recorded the courts observations on the contentious issue, the judges directed district magistrates, police superintendents and other administrative and police officer to ensure

  1. No person throughout the state of Himachal Pradesh shall sacrifice any animal in any place of public religious worship, including all lands and building near such places of religious worship, which are ordinarily connected for religious purposes or in any ceremony/Yagya/congregation or procession connected with any religious worhship in public street forthwith.
  2. No person shall perform or offer to perform or serve, assist or participate or offer to serve any sacrifice of animal in any place of religious worship ceremony/Yagya, including all lands and the building near such places of religious worship, which are ordinarily connected for religious purposes forthwith.
  3. No person shall allow any sacrifice to be performed at any place which is situated within any place of public religious worship/ceremony/Yagya, including all lands and building near such places of religious worship, which are ordinarily connected for religious purposes forthwith.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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  1. says: Amar

    If it is a social evil then why is killing goats and sheep permitted in meat market and slaughter houses? Is there no pain and suffering to the poor animals?

  2. says: Avay Shukla

    This is a path breaking judgement and one which was long overdue. The court has displayed exemplary courage and compassion in issuing this order. I am sure it will be challenged by religious zealots and the ” thekedars” who run our temples like a market-place, but at least the issue is now in the public domain for discussion. Barbarism, whether directed towards humans or animals, has no place in a modern society and must be consigned to the dustbin of history like other reprehensible practices disguised as religion. It is orders like these which restore our sometimes faltering faith in the judiciary.

    1. says: Rajesh Kumar

      हिमाचल के हाई कोर्ट ने केवल हिन्दू आस्था के खिलाफ एक भेदभाव पूर्ण निर्णय दिया है पशु बलि पर पूर्ण प्रतिबन्ध का !. पशु बलि पर प्रतिबंद तो जायज हो सकता है लेकिन सिर्फ हिन्दू आस्था को ही केवल कियूं निशाना बनाया गया ? देवी देवता के नाम पर तो हज़ारो बलि साल भर में दी जाती रही है वो भी हज़ारों सालो से कियूं की जनजातीय इलाको में ६ – महीने तो बर्फ रहती है जिस से खेती केवल सिमित होती है और वो मॉस खा कर और पशु के अन्य भागो से विभिन सामान बनाकर रहते आये है सदियों से तो वो एक दम गलत कैसे हो गया वो भी केवल हिंदी आस्था ? लेकिन जो पशु बुचडखानो में आदमी के लिए बलि दी जातीहै वो भी हर दिन हज़ारों बलि वो अदलात को कियूं नज़र नहीं आता ? बकरी ईद पर बलि दी जाने वाले पशु पर कियूं कुछ नहीं कहा ? केवल हिन्दू आस्था को ही कियूं निशाना बनाया गया ? गो हत्या पर कियूं पूर्ण प्रतिबन्ध नहीं लगाया गया है ? अगर पशु बलि में पशुओ को पीड़ा झेलनी पड़ती है हिन्दू मंदिरो में तो क्या बुचरखानो में वो पशु को पीड़ा नहीं होती ? ये भेद कियूं किया? वो बाजार में आदमी के नाम पर काटने वाले पशु पर प्रतिबन्ध कियूं नहीं लगाया गया जहाँ तो हर रोज़ लाखों पशुओं की बलि दी जाती है लेकिन केवल हिन्दू आस्था वाले भोले भले प्रदेश के लोग ही दिखे !

      1. says: Avay Shukla

        The order clearly applies to ” all religious places” and not just Hindu temples-there is no discrimination against only Hindu temples as is being made out.

  3. says: Pramod

    Billions of thanx to you HP regime and court …. For giving justice to innocent animals … Who all have and never does anything wrong to we humans…..
    But we humans are insane species that dominate over lean and eat them …. Thanx a lot

  4. says: Sunny

    Mr makhaik it’s a heartfelt request that you ensure people like R do not post such nasty, preposterous and full of hate remarks on your site since such posts amount to contempt of court and I implore you to please verify the particulars of this person so that appropriate action under law can be take against him and help us in bringing such people to justice … He is trying to sit over the order of the Hon’ble high court which has passed such a landmark judgment …. This man is challenging the very authority of the Hon’ble judges and stringent actions have to be taken against him

  5. says: Sunny

    Mr maar have u even gone thru the order ???? Please do not try to confuse the issues … Hindu religion nowhere mandates animal sacrifice … In the name of god the innocent animal is being sacrifices which is eventually consumed by humans just to fulfill the taste buds… You have not even studied and read the writ petition therefore put your money where your mouth is … There are slaughter house rules which govern slaughter house but no such dictum or law governs the slaughtering of animals in rural areas additionally, Hindu religion is all about dharma, karma, compassion and being considerate towards other beings and animals… A god is a protector of life not destroyer …. This is a barbaric ritual and it’s about time the Hon’ble high court has axed this stupid ritual

  6. says: Sunny

    Ask “r” to stop making such comments on the judgment since Supreme Court has already decided that no cow slaughter can take place across the length and breadth of the country

  7. The court order seeking to ban animal slaughter across temples in Himachal has raised a diverse set of reactions.

    Where the argument about slaughter of animals in public gaze at some temples of Himachal being a kind of barbaric practice that shocks is valid but the counter view that temples are places of faith, religion and beliefs which uphold ‘Ahimsa’ is not.

    Meat eating and holding of a public feast after slaughtering an animal in sacrifice of a deity in a temple has been part of ‘Hindu’ culture practiced from Kashmir to hilly regions of Himachal and Uttarakhand, Nepal and even at the famous Kamaksha Devi temple of Assam.

    In fact temple priests and pandits were always the privileged class to be served the first meal after the sacrificial offerings had been made and the meat cooked for the feast.

    Most pandit families in hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, till a generation ago, were non-vegetarians, though the trend now is more towards vegetarianism.

    Hinduism or Hindutava being congregational of a very diverse set of value systems, beliefs and religious practices, it is hard to figure out ‘why’ and ‘how’ the ‘Devta’ system with its set of beliefs, some of which are very shocking like ‘human sacrifices’ at Bhunda festivals, came about and have survived for centuries.

    Unlike lower Himachal, where the Devi cult is predominant; much of the hilly terrain is Lord Shiva’s country.

    Where vegetarianism is part of Vaishnavism, among the Shaivities and at Tantric Shakti temples located in Himachal Pradesh and other Himalayan regions, animal sacrifice, slaughter and feasting is part of the religious practice that has carried on for centuries together.

    Animal rights activists have applauded the courts directive for banning animal sacrifice but implementing the order would be a different story. It just may not succeed.

    Even after 67 years of Independent India (and earlier even under the tough British rulers) the government and the state has not been successful in banning human sacrifice which as a watered down ritual involving grave risk to life is still held at ‘Bhunda’ fairs, where ever and whenever they are held from time to time.

    Other than creating a law and order situation for the government and the law enforcing agencies, stopping animal sacrifices at temples is going to be a tough task.

    Slaughtering a goat as an offering to the Devta God, holding a feast and inviting friends, relatives and even hosting strangers is part of cultural festivities practiced in parts of Sirmaur, Shimla, Chamba, Kullu, Kinnaur and Mandi districts.

    In Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti we even have non-vegetarian Buddhists as much of it is Tantric Buddhism that is practiced in these high altitude regions.

    Not sure whether the courts writ will prevail but maybe it could at least stop the public slaughter of animals in temples that truly shock.

    A way out could be to create a separate enclosure, within the temple but away from public gaze, where animal sacrifice could be permitted.

  8. says: D.Bhatt Almora

    No one can find fault with the sincere emotions of pure vegetarians to whom the practice of animal sacrifice in temples may seem to be barberic and inhuman. However, this world is full of geographical, cultural, social, ethnic, religious, racial,etc diversity. Gone are the days when the imperialistic British ideologues described various local traditions and relilgions in its colonies as native, barbaric and heathen, and many Indians educated under European traditions would credulously believed it. In independent India the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and protects their denominations too. All religion grant very significant role to customs and traditions which sometimes may override even the word of the scriptures.Unlike most other religions of the world, Hindu religion has been judicially acknowledged to be different in nature as it does not have one god, one scripture, one propounder, one way of worship or one way of life and values.So whoever claims that animal sacrifice is not an integral part of Hindu religion demonstrates a myopic and erroneous understanding of Hindu religion, because Hindu religion is not one set of belief, nor one way of worship, nor one set of deities. If scriptures do not mention local deities, does that mean they are non-Hindu deities?

  9. says: D.Bhatt Almora

    If you read the Brahman texts ( which are part of the Vedas, giving the method of performing various yajnas) you will find that the agni somiya yajnas were all yajnas in which an animal ( usually a goat) was tied to a yupa, and then killed and eaten by the priests. It was even specified which part of the animal would be given for eating to which priest. And all this is in the Vedas, which are the most sacred among the books of the Hindus.
    —Justice (Rtd) Markandey Katju in his facebook post dated 7th Sept 2014

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