Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhawanipatna, Oct 9:
Despite ban and public awareness campaigns, thousands of animals and birds were sacrificed to propitiate Goddess Manikeswari during the annual ‘Chhattar Jatra’ here.
The district administration had appealed to people to refrain from animal sacrifice. However, the devotees sacrificed over 50, 000 animals and birds on either side of the road near the temple to appease the presiding deity of the temple.
The slaughtering continued despite installation of 15 CCTV and drone cameras.
According to reports, over 1.5 lakh people took part in the annual festival and had a glimpse of the presiding deity while it was taken out in a procession.
“As many as 11 platoons of police personnel have been deployed. Besides, 41 SIs, 15 inspectors, five DSPs, one Additional SP, Kesinga SDPO, around 50 Constables and 37 home guards have been deployed for smooth passage of the festival. We had initiated awareness campaigns to prevent animal sacrifice and I belive it will be on the wane following which people will refrain from it,” Kalahandi SP Brijesh Kumar Rai said.
The goddess was taken in a procession from Jenakhal after Sandhi Puja to Bhawanipatna, the permanent abode of the deity. The Chhattar procession took off at around 5.20 am with people making beeling to have a glimpse of the presiding deity. The town reververated amid the rhythmic beats of Jenabadya, Nisan and Ghanta (traditional musical instruments) and dancers performing ‘Ghumura’ and martial art forms.
“We eagerly wait for the festival to participate in it. The people of Kalahandi have immense faith in Maa Manikeswari. We offer sacrifices on fulfillment of our wishes in which people across caste and religion participate in it,” a devotee expressed.
Before the start of the sacrifice ritual on Asthami tithi of the Hindu month of Ashwina every year, two swords belonging to the goddess are washed in the pond located behind the palace. The swords are then worshipped and brought back to the temple in a procession. Then a buffalo is sacrificed at the Budharaja or Vairab temple, a satellite shrine of the Manikeswari temple.
Following this ritual, the Chhattar or umbrella of the goddess, along with two swords of the deity, are taken out for the procession.