Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhawanipatna, Oct 1:
With the famous Chhattar festival of presiding deity of Odisha’s Kalahandi district Maa Manikeswari around the corner, the district administration officials today organised a preparatory meeting at the district superintendent of police office here for smooth conduct of the celebration.
The district administration urged the representatives of various organisations who participated in the meeting to do away with the animal sacrifice ritual during the festival on October 9.
Notably, thousands of animals and birds are sacrificed every year to propitiate Goddess Manikeswari, defying the directions of district administration and awareness campaigns by animal rights groups.
Lakhs of devotees make a beeline to partake in the procession of Manikeswari, the presiding deity of the area. The Goddess is taken in a procession from Jenakhal after Sandhi puja to her temple inside the Bhawanipatna royal palace, which is the permanent abode of the deity, amid the rhythmic beats of Jenabadya, Nisan and Ghanta (traditional musical instruments) and dancers performing ‘Ghumura’ and martial art forms.
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.