The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered an interim stay on an earlier Orissa High Court judgment banning animal sacrifice during the Chatar Yatra at the Manikeswari temple at Bhawanipatna. The stay was ordered by a bench led by CJI Bobde and comprised of Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramaniam as well.
“A civilized society cannot accept to see such activities openly and blood of animals flowing on the streets during the procession of the deity”, the High Court had declared in its verdict in January while hearing a petition against the age-old tradition filed by one Jayanti Das, a supposed social activist. The CJI-led bench ordered a stay while hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by a local, Bhawani Shankar Nial.
The SLP noted that the petitioner against the tradition was not a resident of Kalahandi and had no knowledge of Chatar Yatra. It wished to interfere with the age-old religious beliefs and customs of the people of Kalahandi, the SLP argued. Nial welcomed a stay on the High Court verdict. The Chatra Yatra sees devotees sacrificing animals to appease Goddess Manikeswari and sees the participation of of four-five lakh people from Odisha and neighbouring states.
Intriguingly enough, the Orissa High Court in its judgment banning the tradition had relied on Wikipedia as a legitimate source. “From Wikipedia, it appears that Chatar Yatra is a traditional festival celebrated by the people of Kalahandi District, Orissa every year. The festival involves Maa Manikeshwari, the family goddess of the Kalahandi King,” the verdict said.
The Orissa High Court also declared in its verdict, “God is the creator of the universe. He has created the human beings, animals, birds and all the species on this earth. The animals and birds breathe like us. They have also a right to live in harmony with human beings and the nature. Like the parents cannot tolerate to see the blood of their children, deity cannot be pleased by sacrificing the animals. No deity would ever ask for the blood.”
It continued, “All deities are kind hearted and bless the humanity to prosper and live in harmony with each other. Sacrificing the animals to please the deity is nothing but a sheer superstition which needs to be addressed so that it can come to an end by way of public awareness, sensitization for which participation of district administration, police, educated mass, students and people from all walks of life is necessary. Butchery of animals on the public place on the festival day is shocking and horrifying.”
“The rituals attached to animal/bird sacrifice reflect only cruelty, superstition, fear and barbarism and has nothing to do with either religion or culture and such practice is abhorrent and dastardly. The animals have basic rights and it needs to be recognized and protected,” the verdict stated emphasizing that “It is high time to check such activities, if necessary by taking stringent action against the violators.” The verdict has now been stayed by the Supreme Court.
Tripura High Court had banned animal sacrifice at Matabari
In September 2019, Tripura High Court in an atrocious judgment banned Pashubali (animal sacrifice) at the Maa Tripureswari Mandir in Udaipur and other Hindu temples in Tripura. Tripureswari temple, also known as Tripura Sundari Temple, is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths, and Pashubali is an integral custom of the temple.
The Tripura High Court had voiced similar sentiments as its Odisha counterpart and said, “Which religion would allow itself to be shackled to dogma, superstition and unfounded beliefs so as not to reform and be in tune with the changing times in pursuit of Constitutional goals and morality.” The Supreme Court had imposed a stay on that verdict as well and animal sacrifices resumed at the Temple in Tripura.