Bhawanipatna: Without paying any heed to the Odisha government’s ban and public awareness campaigns, frenzied people who claimed to be devotees butchered over 50,000 animals and birds on Sunday to “appease” Goddess Manikeswari during the annual “Chhattar Yatra” here.
The district administration had also made fervent appeals to the people to refrain from animal sacrifice.
The slaughtering of animals and birds continued till the afternoon despite 15 CCTV and drone cameras being installed.
The huge deployment of police personnel also failed to check the slaughter, as most of the locals extended their patronage to the act, arguing that animal sacrifice was a long-practiced religious tradition during Chhattar Yatra, and the government’s ban is an infringement of their right to religion.
Since no political parties want to earn the displeasure of the locals, they also don’t raise their voice against the practice, nor do they cooperate with the administration’s effort to enforce the law.
According to reports, over 1.5 lakh people took part in the annual festival, and had a glimpse of the presiding deity while it was taken out in a procession.
As many as 11 platoons of police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order. Besides, 41 sub-inspectors, 15 inspectors, five deputy superintendents of police and one additional SP, were deployed at the festival.
“We had initiated awareness campaigns to prevent animal sacrifice. I believe it will be on the wane due to massive awareness programmest,” Kalahandi SP Brijesh Kumar Rai was quoted as saying.
During the Chhattar Yatra, the goddess is taken in a procession from Jenakhal after Sandhi Puja to Bhawanipatna town, the permanent abode of the deity.
On Sunday, the Chhattar procession took off at around 5.20 am with people making beeline to have a glimpse of the presiding deity. The town reverberated amid the rhythmic beats of Jenabadya, Nisan and Ghanta (traditional musical instruments) and dancers performing ‘Ghumura’ and martial art forms.
“We eagerly wait for the festival to participate in it. The people of Kalahandi have immense faith in Maa Manikeswari. We offer sacrifices on fulfillment of our wishes in which people across caste and religion participate in it,” Sudharam Sarap, a devotee.
Before the start of the sacrifice ritual on Asthami tithi of the Hindu month of Ashwina every year, two swords belonging to the goddess are washed in the pond located behind the palace. The swords are then worshipped and brought back to the temple in a procession. Then a buffalo is sacrificed at the Budharaja or Vairab temple, a satellite shrine of the Manikeswari temple.
Following this ritual, the Chhattar or umbrella of the goddess, along with two swords of the deity, are taken out for the procession....