Monday, 30th October 2017

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Sacrifice day at Balangir

More than 30,000 animals, including buffaloes, goats, sheep, chickens, pigeons, ducks and swans, were sacrificed during the celebrations of sulia yatra, a festival of tribal people, today at Khairguda village in Tusura police limits of Balangir district.

By Sandeep Dwivedy in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 4.01.17
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Bhubaneswar, Jan. 3: More than 30,000 animals, including buffaloes, goats, sheep, chickens, pigeons, ducks and swans, were sacrificed during the celebrations of sulia yatra, a festival of tribal people, today at Khairguda village in Tusura police limits of Balangir district.

Tribal people at Badkhala near Khairguda village observe the yatra on the second Tuesday of Pausha month following the Hindu calendar.

On December 31, the district Adivasi Kalyan Sangha and the Milita Sulia Puja Committee announced they would continue with the tradition of sacrificing animals during the festival.

Earlier in the day, a large number of tribal people took out a procession.

Holding traditional weapons, the tribal people took out a rally and reached the site of the festival. Nisi puja, a ritual performed as a precursor to the festival, was performed last night.

The festival has been in the midst of controversy because of the animal sacrifice ritual. While the tribal people have maintained that the tradition be continued, animal rights activists have been opposing it because of cruelty to animals. The festival has had its share of legal battles as Orissa High Court, in its interim directive, had asked the Balangir district administration to follow the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, based on a PIL filed by advocate Devasis Biswal.

The court had also ordered the district administration to provide security to the petitioner as he had received threatening calls after filing the case. The high court directive had led to frequent tension between the tribal people and the district administration.

However, in September 2015, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the rituals. "This is a sensitive matter better dealt with by representatives of the people in the appropriate forums. We cannot shut our eyes to centuries-old traditions," the court had ruled. Since last year, the district administration, instead of using coercive measures, has been trying to sensitise the villagers on cruelty to animals.

Supriya Bhoi, a devotee from Sambalpur, said: "I have been visiting the Sulia Pitha for the last four years. I prayed for my husband to God Sulia, as he met with an accident recently. He survived the accident and is fine now, so I came here to offer animals and coconut to the god."