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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bolangir: The famous Sulia Jatra kicked off with its animal sacrifice rituals amid Covid-19 guidelines at Khairaguda in Deogarh block of the district on Tuesday under the strict deployment of the district administration and police officials.

Thousands of birds and animals including goats, sheep, buffaloes, ducks, pigeons and roosters were sacrificed at Bada Khala in Khairguda and Sana Khala in Kumuria village amid tight security arrangements.

However, meena bazaar and cultural functions have not been organised this year in order to prevent huge congregation at the festival site due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

“We are strictly following all the Covid-19 guidelines. Barricades have also been put up for the smooth darshan of all the devotees,” said Maya Pradhani, president of the Jatra Committee.

As there were no awareness campaigns by the district administration this year, the jatra committee members stuck to their decision of continuing animal sacrifices during the festival citing tradition.

Prior to the sacrifice ritual in both the villages, tribals took out a procession holding traditional weapons where priests danced to the beating of drums and playing of tribal musical instruments to the Sulia Peeth in Khairguda. Later, the chief priest performed the ritual at the main shrine before carrying out the sacrifice to appease the presiding deity.

Tribals believe that appeasing the deity by sacrificing animals brings good rainfall and harvest. The animal sacrifice ritual takes place on the second Tuesday of the Odia month of Pausa every year.

Earlier, Odisha government had tried to stop the gory practice following Orissa High Court order to stop animal sacrifice, but the ritual continued after Supreme Court in its ruling in 2015 held that animal sacrifice, being a sensitive issue, was better dealt with by representatives of the people at appropriate forums.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)

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