'No animal sacrifice during Kullu Dussehra'

Kullu (Himachal Pradesh): Animal sacrifice for religious ceremonies has stopped in Kullu district - famous for the centuries old Dussehra festivities - since the high court ban last year, an official said on Thursday.

"There has not been a single instance of animal sacrifice in Kullu district since the high court banned animal sacrifice in September 2014," Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said in a statement.

The famous, centuries old Kullu Dussehra festival earlier used to see animal sacrifice.

He said the administration has taken strong steps to ensure that no such instance happens and the people associated with the Dev Samaj, which comprises representatives of the deities, have also followed the court orders.

According to tradition, the sacrifice of a buffalo, a male lamb, a fish, a crab and a chicken is an important ritual on the concluding day of Kullu Dussehra, which begins in Kullu town after it ends in the rest of the country.

This year the festival will commence on October 23 and will see congregation of over 200 gods and goddesses of the Kullu Valley.

Kanwar said that even during last year's Kullu Dussehra that fell immediately after the ban was imposed, the local administration managed to convince the Dev Samaj to forgo the practice to appease the gods.

He said that for the first time in over 350 years it happened that no animal sacrifice was carried out last year. The symbolic sacrifice ritual was in fact performed by breaking a coconut.

Invoking parens patriae, a doctrine that grants the state authority to protect those who are legally unable to act on their own, a division bench consisting of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur had observed: "The practice of animal and bird sacrifice is abhorrent and dastardly."

The bench had banned the animals sacrifice in temples, saying they cannot be permitted to be killed in a barbaric manner to "appease" the gods.

The Kullu Valley is also popularly known as the 'Dev bhoomi' - the land of gods. Every village has several resident gods and goddesses - who are invoked as living deities.

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