The Left Front government in Tripura will be sponsoring animal sacrifices in major temples during Kali Puja this weekend although it runs contrary to its political ideology of discouraging religious practices.
These ‘official’ rituals for appeasing Kali and other religious deities have animal rights activists see red. The government led by CPI-(M) however, says it is bound by an agreement signed in 1949 which merged Tripura with the Union of India. “It is a tradition we cannot do without,” said an official.
The Left Front has been ruling Tripura since 1978 barring a five-year Congress reign in between.
Kali Puja is a major two-day event at temples like Tripureshwari in Udaipur town. Tripura’s King Dhanya Manikya had the temple, a prime Shakti Peeth, built in 1501. The Gomati district magistrate, as ex-officio chief sevait (organiser), bears the expenses.
“The government finances the rituals here and at other temples because it replaced the royalty that patronised them,” Udaipur-based social activist Swapan Bhattacharya said.
Apart from temples, the Tripura government also sponsors the centuries-old Kharchi Puja and Ker Puja — annual tribal festivals that involve the sacrifice of chicken and goats.
But animal rights activists feel it is time for switching to a bloodless sacrifice for the festival. “If sacrifice is considered to be an essential part of Puja, the animals can very well be replaced by vegetables such as pumpkin and cucumber,” JP Choudhury, a scientist said.