Animal rights crusaders in Kolkata are celebrating a recent court ruling that has called for an end to the tradition of sacrificing animals in the open at the famous Kalighat temple.
While the September 15 ruling of the Calcutta High Court came as a blow to the temple panda, or chief priest, it was a verdict delayed but not denied for animal lovers who had started protesting the practice in 2000.
A division bench consisting of Chief Justice VS Sirpurkar and Justice Nadira Patherya, hearing a petition by one PR Goenka, said open slaughter was banned in Kolkata as per municipal laws. It added that the Kalighat temple was a tourist destination and visitors could not be forced to watch the bloodbath.
How can a tourist be exposed to this? the judges asked.
The temple of Goddess Kali, one of the principal deities of Bengal, is located on the banks of the Hooghly river in Kolkata. Millions of visitors from the state and outside visit the 200-year-old temple every year.
"In the past we protested in front of the Kalighat temple on Kali Puja day (Oct 27, 2000), which resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of animal sacrifices," said Debasis Chakrabarti of People for Animals (PFA).
"Because of our protest, Nepal King Gyanendra abstained from the animal sacrifice during his last visit to Kolkata in June 2002," Chakrabarti said.
He said the practice could not go on in the name of religion.
"We cannot go back to medieval practices. We must move ahead. In the name of religion you can even carry out human sacrifices and it still takes place in many parts in India to our shock and disbelief," he said.
"If you want to offer blood to mother goddess Kali, why not give human blood for the benefit of human society?" Chakrabarti asked.
As part of the ongoing protests against the killing of animals in the name of religion, PFA is organising a blood donation camp on the day of Kali Puja (Nov 11 this year) at its animal hospital complex Ashari.