Row over buffalo sacrifice in Kamakhya Temple: Banning practice will deprive poor, says head priest

If the sacrifice of buffaloes in Kamakhya temple is banned, many poor families would be deprived of the prasad which they get as meat of the animal offered to the Goddess, said Kabindra Dev Sharma, the head priest of the ancient shrine while condemning Assamese superstar Zubeen Garg for his appeal to stop sacrificing of animals.

The Kamakhya Temple, which is known for the ritual of sacrificing animals and birds, such as buffaloes, goats, pigeons and ducks, has often been target of animal rights organisations. But this is the first time when one of the most adored celebrities in the region, Zubeen Garg, has spoken out openly against the ritual.

His appeal has sparked widespread debate in both social and mainstream media as it also involved Bollywood star Govinda, whom Zubeen accused of offering a buffalo for sacrifice in the temple during his recent visit to Assam.

 Row over buffalo sacrifice in Kamakhya Temple: Banning practice will deprive poor, says head priest

File image of Kamakhya Temple. Reuters

Explaining that apart from being an ancient religious ritual sacrifice of animals, Sharma said, “The prasad that goes out of the temple as meat of goat, duck, pigeon is distributed among one and all. But the prasad that we get from sacrifice of buffalo is distributed among many tribal families living in the hills.”

Significantly, the city of Guwahati, which hosts the ancient shrine, also homes 7,032 hectares of reserve forests spread across 14 hills. The forest-covered hills are home to numerous tribal villages, where having access to facilities of health, nutrition and education is always a struggle.

“The Kamakhya Temple follows the ancient ritual of distributing prasad among the people who want it,” he said. He further added, “Whenever a buffalo is sacrificed, we inform them and they gladly accept the prasad.”

He also hoped that Zubeen would not like to deprive the poor families from prasad.

The tribes who reside in the hills in Guwahati are namely Bodo, Kachari, Rabha, Lalung, Karbi and Garo. Meat is known as the most cherished food among many tribes and ethnic groups in the state, as it is easily available for them than other rich sources of protein such as milk and cereals.

A study published in the International Journal of Science and Research on the nutritional condition of children in Guwahati shows that 32 percent were underweight against the national average of 35.7 percent.

Hitting out at Zubeen Garg for his appeal, the head priest also said that the artist has no right to dictate personal choice of devotees and ask them to stop sacrifice of animals as it is not compulsory for them to sacrifice animals in Kamakhya Temple.

“There is also a method of worship where no sacrifice of animal is required in Kamakhya Temple. It is the matter of the devotees’ personal right to decide upon which method of worship they would like to opt for. Zubeen Garg has no right to dictate their personal choices,” he said.

Citing that the north-eastern part of India is mostly dominated by non-vegetarians, he asked, “What about the meat shops and slaughterhouses across the region? Are not they killing animals?”

An Indiaspend analysis shows that the North East has one of the highest number of non-vegetarians in the country.

Kabindra Sharma also warned Zubeen not to repeat such statements.

Zubeen, who is the most popular singer and actor in Assam, on Monday appealed in a musical function that sacrificing of animals should be stopped in Kamakhya Mandir.

Govinda was in Guwahati on 27 May to attend the ‘Prag Cine Awards North-East’ 2018 event held at the GMCH auditorium. Interestingly, he even honoured Zubeen at the presentation ceremony for winning the best popular actor (male) award for the Assamese movies Priyar Priyo and Mission China. Zubeen’s film Mission China also won the best popular film award at the same event, reported News18.

Zubeen also advised people to eat fish instead, reported The New Indian Express. “I stopped eating the meat of duck since I started rearing one. When you fall in love with an animal, you stop eating its meat. Fishes are aplenty everywhere. We should eat fish,” he said. But it is not known whether Govinda offered a buffalo for sacrifice.

Zubeen has recently been vocal about socio-political issues in the region. Only a few days ago, he raised his voiced against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is widely feared by the indigenous ethnic groups and tribes of the region. They fear it would accommodate Hindu Bangladeshis in the region turning the locals into minorities. Zubeen’s statement received tremendous support in the region.

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Updated Date: May 30, 2018 18:39:55 IST