“Killing” the Festive Spirit…

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Durga Puja usually spells fanfare and pomp and splendour for not only the ardent devotees of Goddess Durga, but also for every other person who loves to take a little break from daily work or other activities. While most of the country is busy having a great time relaxing and enjoying with family and friends, some busy in planning and organising and setting up puja pandals and performing the puja rituals, and some are busy doing nothing but spending time alone in pure bliss; somewhere near or far are yet other people who have their own peculiar ways of observing this festival. They sacrifice lives. And no, they do not sacrifice their own happiness or their own lives for the sake of others or anything on these lines. They brutally sacrifice the lives of poor, innocent, speechless animals for the sake of their own ‘so called’ prosperity. They do it in the name of appeasing the goddess of power Devi Durga. But in the name of faith it is seen that hundreds of these poor animals are slaughtered.

The last Durga Puja was no exception to this societal killing frenzy. 48 buffaloes, over 2,000 goats and an uncountable number of pigeons and ducks were chopped out of their lives in the state of Assam. And the number is only tentative which might have even gone up. While the highest numbers of animals – 31 buffaloes – were sacrificed at the Billeswar Devalaya at Belsor in Nalbari, at Kamakhya temple, 10 buffaloes and 500 goats were sacrificed in keeping with tradition. Meanwhile, thousands of devotees thronged Rani on the outskirts of Guwahati, where seven buffaloes and over 1,000 ducks and pigeons were sacrificed. And nothing but the faith of a society has murdered them. All of this is shocking but very true. And the same story has been repeated over the years. It is ironical that these mindless traditions have continued even when the society is said to have been becoming a progressing one.

Animal sacrifices have not been confided to the ritualistic traditions of Durga puja only. Different Pujas ordain the need of animal sacrifices. Whether it be Kali puja, Manasa puja there are many such rituals that have animal sacrifices. And the sacrifices have not been confined to only the special yearly pujas. The temples have sacrifices all the year round. The devi piths of Kamakhya, Mahamaya temple in Dhubri are well known for the sacrifices. Even this ghastly tradition of sacrifice has found resonance in some unlikely places of our day to lives. It is rumoured that Animals are sacrificed when new large scale construction especially in the building of bridge is undertaken.

The buck does not stop here. Even the Humans are also not spared. Superstitious persons blindfolded in the cloth of fanatism indulge in such activities as well. In the hindsight such heinous incidents of human sacrifice is present but it remains unreported. A few jawans sacrificed a young boy in the name durga puja in Meghalaya a few days back. It raises serious questions on the conduct of the people in case of religious beliefs. In fact the tradition of human sacrifice goes a long way back. Tamreshwari Devalaya Centuries ago had the tradition of human sacrifice there. The Ahoms did not put a stop to it. Infact they would send the persons who had been awarded the death sentence to be slaughtered there. Historical evidence also suggests that human sacrifice was also prevalent in the Kamakhya temple of Guwahati. But Human sacrifices have become obsolete.

Whatever may be the historical precedence that may exist in case of sacrifices but that does not dictate that these heinous practices be adhered to. Now there is a building public opinion stating that the animal sacrifices may now be discontinued. It makes no sense to the logical mind that these poor animals be slaughtered in the name of some religious beliefs. Different organisations and individuals have raised their voices against the animal sacrifices. ‘People for animals’ is an organisation which has been most vocal against this menace. But it is really up to the society to re think on this issue. It is indeed time that the festive spirit of Durga Puja, or any other festive occasion for that matter is spared the scene of a blood bath…