The district administration faces a tricky situation in ensuring the town's popular Dussehra festival passes off peacefully as the Kullu Kardar Sangh, an organization representing hundreds of Hindu temples in the district, has still not made its stand clear on the issue of continuing with the age-old custom of ritually sacrificing animals despite a court ban.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court recently ordered a blanket ban on all forms of sacrifice of animals and birds at temples and other places of worship in the state, and asked all deputy commissioners, superintendents of police, subdivisional officers and police station house officers to enforce the ban.
The court's verdict has put the Kardar Sangh in a huge quandary, as most area residents follow the tradition of ritually sacrificing goats and sheep to appease local village deities. “After the Himachal high court rejected our review petition, we've filed a PIL on the matter in the SC and are awaiting its verdict,” Said Maheshwar Singh, erstwhile ruler of Kullu kingdom and local MLA.
Most conservative Hindus appear to be in favour of celebrating the Dussehra festival the traditional way, that is, with ritual sacrifice of goats, sheep and birds at temples, while many others have welcomed the court's decision.
Meanwhile, the administration has already begun the court mandated exercise of generating awareness about the issue among the state's residents by publishing pamphlets and displaying boards at temples and other places. The court had tasked administration and police officials in all districts withpreventing the practice of animal sacrifice.
More than 1,700 police personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order during the festival, while the police chief has asked for more manpower to deal with any exigency. “The high court order will be strictly enforced during the event,” Kullu SP Surender Verma said.