Cuttack: Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Orissa High Court has banned animal sacrifice during the famous Chhatar Jatra festival dedicated to Goddess Manikeswari at Bhawanipatna of Kalahandi district. It is to be noted that thousands of animals are sacrificed at this Jatra in the name of custom during Dusshera every year.
In the matter of a PIL filed by Cuttack based social activist Jayanti Das the Orissa High Court has issued the ban order on animal sacrifice during Chhatar Jatra. A bench of Judges constituting Chief Justice Sanju Panda and Justice Sangam Kumar directed the Government to take necessary steps to clamp restrictions on animal sacrifice that is carried out by near Maa Manikeshwari temple in Bhawanipatna during observation of Chhatar Jatra in September-October every year.
HC also ordered the State administration to create awareness among people to stop the superstitious and barbarous practice.
The court also directed SP of Kalahandi to keep vigil on persons planning to create ruckus by sacrificing animals during the festival.
Social worker Jayanti Das of Mohammadia Bazaar in Cuttack had moved the High Court in 2017 opposing animal sacrifice during Chhatar jatra.
In the last years despite restrictions imposed by the district administration, thousands of animals were sacrificed by the devotees on the occasion of ‘Chhatar Jatra’ of Goddess Manikeswari in Bhawanipatna.
The ceremonial Chhatar of Goddess Manikeswari is taken out to the Jena Khala on the outskirts of Bhawanipatna from Manikeswari temple. After execution of certain secret rituals there the Chhatar is brought back in a large procession to the temple. The return journey of the Chhatar to the temple is known as Chhatar Jatra. As per age-old rituals, devotees, during this return journey of the holy umbrella (Chhatar) procession, sacrifice animals and birds like goats, sheep, cocks, and pigeons every year to appease the deity.
On the other hand devotees who used to sacrifice animals during Chhatar Jatra don’t seem satisfied with the High Court order. Some of them are of the opinion that the practice cannot be stopped since devotees do it to show their devotion. However, intellectuals have hoped that with ample awareness the age-old practice can be checked.