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Sulia Jatra: A festival of animal sacrifice
Kandha tribe of western Orissa has been celebrating Sulia Jatra, a tribal festival, since ages. The festival is celebrated to please the tribal god by sacrificing buffaloes, goats, roosters and pigeons. However, the practice needs to be discontinued
IN THE name of tradition, thousands of animals and birds are sacrificed in Khairguda village, which is situated about 25 km from Bolangir District in Orissa. The rituals of animal sacrifices takes place on the second Tuesday of the month of Pausa. This celebration is observed by Kandha tribe of western Orissa. The tribals are practicing the animal killing since ages as per their customary rituals.

It’s really disgusting that in the 21st century too such incidents occur here and thousands of innocent animals die because of the so called tradition. Like previous years, this year also the tribals celebrated Sulia Jatra on December 30. The festival witnessed the slaughter of scores of buffaloes, goats, roosters and pigeons.

For the past four years, the district administration has taken several steps to stop this but it still continues. It is very difficult to create awareness among tribes because they believe that by animal sacrifices they make their god happy and the god will fulfill their wishes. The district administration has conducted individual counseling sessions for tribals, specially for the Deheri (chief worshipper). The administration did earnest endeavour to stop the slaughter and even organised awareness programmes on animal sacrifices in the villages and schools.

So much was the extent that the authorities had to promulgate Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code at the main spot, where the rituals took place but it could not stop them, as they continued rituals at a nearby place.

The festival, Sulia Jatra, is considered holy in the region and is quite popular among other tribes as well. Every year, huge amount of people come to Khairguda village to attend the festival. The tribal of this area worshiped the Sulia budha (name of the god) and as per their custom, they sacrificed animal in front of their god. Every year on this occasion, thousands of animals and birds like buffaloes, goats, pigeons, roosters are killed.

Despite all efforts, the administration could not help the poor animals. However, the authorities need to understand that these are age old rituals, thus cannot be banned in few days. It will require constant and planned effort to educate illiterate tribals and convince them to stop the ritual.
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