The Sunday Leader

Mass Animal Slaughter At Arulmigu Sri Maha Bathrakaliyam Kovil

Text and pictures by Natalie Soysa

Dragged to slaughter – two boys beating and dragging a reluctant goat into the kovil premises and Ready to be reaped – An eyewitness said the chickens were swung around by both head and feet around 15 times each before being dashed on the ground

A kovil in Chilaw, namely the Arulmigu Sri Maha Bathrakaliyam Kovil was the cause of much commotion a few days ago. The slaughter of 300 goats and a countless number of chickens was to take place in celebration and devotion to the goddess Kali. This annual festival and slaughter has been taking place for over 13 generations and has in recent years, come into the radars of various animal rights activists and religious leaders, including the All Ceylon Hindu Congress (ACHC), who have condemned this act of mass slaughter.

This year, the collective group of protestors, which included SLAPA, Embark and the Association of Sangas, headed to the kovil on the morning of August 25th to commence a mass, yet peaceful protest, only to be thwarted by the authorities in the kovil as well as the devotees gathered within the kovil. One woman went as far as threaten one of the photographers on site with a knife if a single photograph of the slaughter was taken. Before any protest could take place, a large group of police officers rounded up the group of protestors and media personnel and escorted them out of the premises on the grounds of intending to disturb the peace within the kovil.

A Peaceful Protest – A group of monks, animal rights activists and concerned citizens demonstrated at a peaceful protest on the next lane to the kovil as they were not allowed any closer, being threatened by riot police who turned a blind eye to the violence going on inside

Within moments the riot police was also deployed, pushing the group of protesters further back into the next lane, where they made their statements. The protestors requested the authorities within the kovil to stop this slaughter which was taking place in the name of a religion that preaches peace.
Many assumed that this was an act of Hindu devotion and the involvement of Buddhist priests instantly implied an almost racial connotation to the protest. However, there were Hindus amongst the group of protestors and many of the people within the kovil, demanding that the slaughter take place, were Buddhists themselves. The majority of Hindus within the country belong to various sects of the religion. This is merely one sect of the religion whose ancient practices have not evolved over time. Many ancient religions also included human sacrifice at one point which has been done away with over the years as religious leaders have found newer interpretations of their religions within their respective ancient texts.
The question arises as to what is fair when it comes to the slaughter of animals. A countless number of livestock are slaughtered on a daily basis for food. For another, it is a basic human right to be able to practice one’s religion. In Nepal, a similar festival calls for the slaughter of some 250,000 animals each year. However, Sri Lankan law clearly prohibits the public slaughter of animals as per the Butcher’s Ordinance. Furthermore, the manner in which these animals are slaughtered raises questions on the supposed spiritual motivations behind this act; an eye witness to the slaughter stated that a man proceeded to hold a chicken by its neck, swinging the terrified bird around about 15 times before finally dashing the chicken on the ground repeatedly, ignoring his own child’s terrified screams. The child was then rebuked and slapped for not wanting to watch the killing of the chicken the family had brought in.
Many parents also opted to let their children carry and in some cases, drag the animals into the kovil, believing that the goddess would look kindly upon their children for this act. Two young boys were seen beating and dragging a goat into the kovil.
The presently functioning law on the prevention of cruelty to animals was passed in 1907 and some argue that many such laws were written vaguely with no clear cut procedure on how the law can be enforced, based on the specific situation. India on the other hand passed a law in 1950 that clearly prohibits the slaughter of animals on legal grounds. In Sri Lanka too there were court rulings in the 1970’s against the slaughter of animals in some kovils in Jaffna on the grounds of it being more a social practice than a religious norm.

For a counterpoint to this article please read The Point Of Animal Sacrifice

32 Comments for “Mass Animal Slaughter At Arulmigu Sri Maha Bathrakaliyam Kovil”

  1. Ariya

    Not enough what their Sun goat Prabakaran did for last 30 years??? Does their Kali Amma want more blood?

    How can Tamil race have such barbaric medieval habits?

  2. VW

    Would Goddess Kali mind if politicians are offered instead of innocent animals?

    • Deshapria

      By the way, you can see Kali Amma working along the Sebastian Road at Pettah. There are 1000s of chicken killed all the time…

    • Major Dushan Wijewickrama

      Good one. Hopefully someone will offer MR as the sacrifice

      • kumar

        PLEASE There are lots of things you can sacrifice in LIFE for betterment not ANOTHR life anymore. Someone please STOP this madness

  3. Rambuttan

    This is an ancient practice of Aryans and later mixed with few Hindu sects. This is an internal affair of Hindus therefore they should discuss and resolve it. No one has the right to interfere in someone’s faith or belief. The problem in Sri Lanka is Buddhist always interfere in the affairs of others. They try to tell what is right and wrong to others in their own perspective. They simply do not understand the fact that something which looks right for them may be wrong for others. This mentality is totally against Buddhism. This attitude should be stopped to bring a decent multi cultural society.

    • Mahida

      And news papers like this depend on this type of reporting to sell the papers. After LW went this paper is absloute trash

    • Saiver Diet

      You idot, Sri Lanka is a predominatly buddhist country. In middle east verybody should behave according to islam, Earleir there were relegions which promoted human sacrifice. If a such relegious sect spring up do think they should be allowed to do human sacrifice.

      In a certain area in pakistan a the punishment for a woman for marrying out of her elegion was gang rape approved by the relegious elders. You think it should be allowed since it is a relegiious decesion.

      Think before you comment you moron

    • Goraka

      Well said Rambuttan, I am a buddhist who practice the religion and also have dharmacharya certificate. I have a good knowledge of the religion. But i do not agree with the attitude of our people towards other races and cultures. As you said we need to respect other peoples faith or belief and their lifestyles.

    • Janaka

      If you live in the Western world you are right. look now Spain is trying to stop bull fights. Do you think USA, UK or Australia would allow this type of sacrifice in the name of f a goddess. This protest will never end until the united forces bring an end to this slaughter.There is nothing to do with Buddists here. Animal right activists are from all walks of life. Do you allow people to kill dogs in this manner. what about human sacrifice.

  4. BigPicture

    Headline: Trillions of lives have been killed every single day by men all over the world in the name of masturbation and sex. This is a high count compared to the thousands of lives lost in butcher shops every week in every city. At least the animals slaughtered are for food at the end of the day.

  5. Soussi

    Helo !

    There was a time some politicians kidnaped gorgious virgin school girls to ivoke blessing from this godess. Now in the recent past there was so many abducted and untraced for many reasons.

    Can this safforon scondral rascals make protest to stop this. May be they must have different thirst like necta for human bloods!

  6. Ratnam

    I am a Hindu and deadly against this old tradition. True that our religion must eveolve with time, I have never been able to link this practice with our belief. This needs to be banned completely.

  7. anbu

    How about the offering of chickens in excorcism ritual by Sinhala folk people.
    How about the sacrice of animals for Ramadan
    How about the ammount of animals killed during Christmas
    How about the ritual ofdrinking blood and body of Christ that is practiced every Suday at chirches. May be because of its cannibalistic past it need to be stopped too.

    This whole discussion is ridiculous. If vegetarians talk about this issue i am willing to talk it through. anybody else is just excercising theri personnal prejudices formed by culture, religion etc

    If the monks are soo serious about animal rights then it is best they become Jains. Jains contributed the idea of Ahimsa to Buddhism and HInduism. The idea of Ahimsa practiced by Jains includes some sects not eating root vegetables too. Jainism is essentially Buddhism with extra empahis on animal welfare too. So may be all Buddshist in this country should become Jains

  8. Saiver Diet

    This Rambutan is a utter moron,

    Just because it is a relegious beleif you cannot expect the country to trun a blind eye to despicable act. This is a predominantly buddhist country. In Saudi you have to abide by the laws of islam.

    Do you say that beheading and killing and stonning of women for adultry should be alowed for muslim fraternity to conduct it in Sri lanka since it is in their relegion

    Thnk before you comment you idiot

  9. Suwimal

    Why can not these protestors resort to legal action against inhuman treatment of animals? That will be more orderly and will save much hostility. Go to the courts, move for an injunction till the case is heard. If necessary show your faces to shutterbugs there.

  10. Soussi

    Hmmm…. Fools

    Yet not grasp the essence of this. I am not quite sure all of us know the fact that Godess Bathra Kali is very strong in granting solution to the distressed people. Although I have not experienced myself, there is a general trend of belief among people not belong to any cast or religion.

    This godess looks the justfication of ill doing people. When he /she made a vow, a blood sacrication is delivered as an offetry. I am confused with our beloved monks are damed scared for the repulsion of nasty curses to their leaders.

    This country has an agenda that no ruling leaders can’t do their nature calling without getting permission from the prelates!

  11. Thikshana

    Totally banned in Hindustan – the place of the Hindus, India. (allowed for Id though). The Hindus have got away from this barberism a long time ago. Why only the Sri Lankan Tamils are doing this?

  12. Rambuttan

    “Saiver Diet” is an idiot. Sri Lanka is not considered a Buddhist country because 40% of its own native population do not follow Buddhism. This include 13% of Sinhalese who are not Buddhists. In middle east you have to adhere to their law as you are an expatriate slave there. You went there to earn penny. Only very few middle eastern countries have reasonable amount of non Muslim native people. Egypt 7%, Syria 8% and Lebanon 45%. Lebanese Prime Minister is a Christian. Egypt and Syria follow secular law to accommodate non Muslims and non Muslims enjoy equal rights in contrast Sri Lanka. You are a fool and do not know Saudi is 100% Muslim. There is no reason they allow you (an expatriate) to keep Buddha statues in the street corners.

    You must have something inside the head to write comments.

    • I can’t judge people but their actions. It seems Rambuttan (or Rambutan the correct Sinhalese word) didn’t get his facts right. 74% of Srilankans are Sinhalese out of which 69% are Buddhist so there are only about 5% non Buddhist Sinhalese.
      So who is idiot now!!
      by the way, Killing animals is bad but not wrong. Killing animals for religious reasons is bad and wrong because religions are there to teach people to live a better life.

  13. Sf

    People should ignore such a festival.

  14. AVB

    Different thought on this.
    How many chicken, goats, etc are slaughtered in SL for human well-being (protein intake)?
    How bad it is to do the same for human spiritual well-being? In latter case, I guess there is more gratitude, thankfulness towards the animal by the Kapurala and religious person.. I like to request to SL Buddhist monks to go and visit SL slaughter houses to see animal killing practices they use… Again I guess this must be really horrible ….

  15. Jayantha

    I cant belive our sinhalese people. This annual festival and slaughter has been taking place for over 13 generations and recent yeras. During the war and last few years nobody commented. how come suddnely this was errupted. Some buggers dont have any work rather creating split between communities. They put brainless some sangha infront. Thanks to our police force who handle this case in proper way and the civil courts. Hats off to them. Pelapli giya mooda rilaw…. wedak nathnam go to North and help to develop that area

  16. Saiver Diet

    Rambutan I still say you are a f…. idiot, Your head is fuzzy like a Rambutan.

    Just because you are able download some stats on demographics of each country does not mean you are an intelect.

    So get back to your Rambutan tree and hang like a ‘vavula’ and leave the debates to the knowledgeable

  17. Rambuttan

    Saiver Diet, this proves you are a F B who does not accept the reality. People say frog inside a well. Obviously this is a fool’s reaction to the truth. Another idiot is stating a census of 1948 in 2010.

  18. [...] Mass Animal Slaughter At Arulmigu Sri Maha Bathrakaliyam Kovil Article published in the Sunday Leader of 29th August 2010 as follow up to the photo essay linked in the previous post –… [...]

  19. For those who may be interested in understanding the general Eastern and Western views on animal welfare, please read my article, “Dissecting American Animal Protection Law: Hearing the Wounds with Animal Rights and Eastern Enlightenment” which was published by the Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal back in 2002.

    M. Varn Chandola

  20. Loku Banda

    Barbarians. Why can’t they be civilized us and just slaughter humans but in a more a ogranized and a periodical manner. 1977 & 1983

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