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Hindu temple cancels animal sacrifice

Intervention by president forces ban on annual ritual

Demonstrators outside the temple have met with success this year Demonstrators outside the temple have met with success this year
  • ucanews.com reporter, Chilaw
  • Sri Lanka
  • September 3, 2012
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A Hindu temple has agreed to cancel, for this year, its ritual slaughter of animals after a series of protests by Buddhist monks and activists.

Hindu devotees were to sacrifice around 300 goats and nearly 1000 chickens at the popular Sri Badrakali Amman Kovil temple in Munneswaram, north of Colombo, on Saturday.

Chief priest Muththu Sivapada Sundaram announced that the annual event would not take place this year, by request of President Rajapaksa. He asked them  to refrain while the sacred Kapilawasthu relics of Lord Buddha are on display in Sri Lanka. They will be shown until September 12 at various locations.

Over 1,000 monks and activists demonstrated in front of the temple last week, while some animal lovers went to court to seek a permanent ban on the practice. After a postponement, the Court of Appeal is due to hear 14 petitions tomorrow.

“We cannot stop this ritual, as Hindu devotees bring animals to please their goddess Kali, but we respect the president’s request,” the chief priest told ucanews.com.

“This is a collective decision taken by our board of priests, even though Chilaw Court issued an order in favor of us.”

The issue of animal sacrifice generates controversy and heated debate on a regular basis.

“Hinduism is a peaceful religion, it does not support such a cruel act. God cannot be satisfied by the blood of innocent animals,” said Venerable Passaramulle Dayawansha, a prominent Buddhist monk. “It's time to end killings in the name of religion.”

Lalani Perera, a lawyer and advocate for the animal rights activists, said: “Sri Lanka does not have a strict law but these slaughters breach the provisions of the Cruelty to Animals’ Law and the Butchers Ordinance. We have filed a case with Colombo magistrates.”

Government minister Mervyn Silva appeared to side with the protesters at a press conference, when he said that the ritual is not mandated in any religious scripture. "Being in a Buddhist country, we should not engage in these types of criminal acts," he said.

But many practising Hindus are not happy about the ban. “This is a vow to the gods,” said one of them, Subramaniyam Saraswathee.

“Many parents bring their children to the temple to receive blessings,” she said. “This is a serious issue.”

Related reports

Judge orders stop to animal sacrifices
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