During the summer season, most of the villages in Maharashtra celebrate annual religious fairs in the name of some or other local God or Goddess. These carnivals serve as an occasion for entertainment and community get-together. Height of the festivities is generally animal sacrifice, which re minds us of barbaric behaviour of ancient times. But vested interests encourage the traditional rituals under the guise of religious practices and cultural occasion only to satisfy their commercial interests.
Most of the communities in Maharashtra have their local deity to worship and these communities believe in worshipping them annually so that no harm will be caused to the community and individual as long as they follow the traditions set up in the past. One of the heinous traditions followed by the communities is animal sacrifice. Occasionally a well-built buffalo is offered but generally a sheep or Cock is butchered in front of the temple, a piece is offered the idol and a portion is given to the priest. and his family whereas the remaining is cooked and consumed with family and friends. This is known as fulfilling a ‘Navas’ in Marathi.
Basically the belief that if you offer something to God, God in return will take care of you is itself a myth. This kind of myth forces poor people to spend lot of money and hardship unnecessarily which otherwise can be used for medical expenses, nutritious food, clothing and to educate the children. The conditions in which the meat of the sacrificed animal is cooked is unhygienic. It is estimated the billions of Rupees wasted in this way can be utilised in many ways to improve basic infrastructure and programs to alleviate poverty and impart basic education.
Efforts by MANS
Our activists face lot of opposition while campaigning against animal sacrifice. Persons whose livelihood is at stake start opposing the good intentions and efforts. The local rowdies try all their best to discourage our activists and even threaten them. They question about the posters arguing that the posters are hurting the religious feelings. The cronies of the priest even instigate the local youths who come in a group and start behaving as though the local deity has possessed them
ANS has all the while opposed the practice since animal sacrifice has never served any purpose socially, economically or emotionally. However though the courts have again and again stressed to stop animal sacrifice in public places, the police authorities are unable to implement the order since there is no support from the society. Our organisation tries to bring awareness and to educate the community in this regard by arranging lectures, poster exhibitions, processions, etc.