Millennium Post

How holy the offering

As Tripura High Court slapped a ban on animal sacrifices in all temples in the state and the royal scion approaching the SC against this pronouncement, it brings to the forefront matters of ritualistic practices and the sentiments people attach to their traditional ways. Tripura High Court's verdict came as a result of a public interest litigation whereby it banned sacrifice of animals or birds for religious reasons. In due process, all district magistrates and superintendents of police of the state are directed to ensure implementation of the order. Further, the court also directed the state's Chief Secretary to immediately install CCTV cameras at two major temples in Tripura—Devi Tripureswari temple and Chaturdas Devata temple (both founded under the Manikya dynasty) where a large number of animals are sacrificed ritualistically. The royal scion of Manikya dynasty, Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarman contends the court's pronouncement saying that court has no basis in saying that animal sacrifice is not an essential part of Hindu faith of the tantrik tradition. Calling this a judicial overreach and saying that "courts cannot play the role of priests" is, in fact, a sensitive matter to be debated in public domains. Debbarman went on to explain that the tradition of animal sacrifices in temples of Tripura, which used to take place under the Manikya monarchs who ruled over the erstwhile kingdom of Tripura, goes beyond the merger agreement with India' and that ever since Tripura acceded to India, the state administration, taking forward the tradition, had been providing animals for sacrifice at two major temples. The tradition of animal sacrifice goes back at least 500 years, persisted under Tripura's Communist rule. It was only expected that the ban on this method of worship sparked a debate in the state. In individual capacity, everyone is entitled to their personal opinion whether or not it is at variance with the common practice, but in a communal context, traditions that evolved and persisted over time cannot be justifiably eradicated altogether. Changes and adjustment with time are inevitable as Debbarman expressed that he is personally against opulent slaughter, and that "We should not do large-scale slaughter and restrict ourselves to symbolic one or two slaughters. It is more affordable too for poor tribes and we should not indulge in such a practice in this day and age. But it is an overreach from the High Court when it says you cannot sacrifice at all. Can they do it at the Kamakhya temple?" Matters of religious sensitivity cannot be objectified and any such decision must be aligned with the sentiments and will of the people.

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