I was quite helpless looking at the innocent animals brought for sacrifice before the deity. It was Bonalu (a Hindu festival of the Goddess of power, Mahakali, celebrated in Hyderabad, Secunderabad and parts of Telangana and Rayalaseema in India – source: wiki) here and i was looking to go on a morning work when i caught the site. There was a mass gathering and people were waiting with the animals in a queue for their turn to come. I was looking here and there when i caught the site of a butcher at a distance under a neem tree busy with his work. It’s a Sunday morning and i thought the place to be a temporary local meat market as i never noticed such a gathering in that place before. There was a very small temple about my height at a small distance from the neem tree surrounded by a large crowd.
I was completely ignorant of the day and the festive occasion that time. My curiosity grew big and i decided to ask people about the event. When i enquired the locals here about the gathering they looked at me suspiciously and tried to inspect me first. I don’t belong to the city and there is issue with the language i speak too. Hardly anybody understands English here and i felt it’s not the right time to tell them that Hindi is our national language which could have brought another argument. I somehow managed to communicate the massage with my ‘hinglish’ ( a combination of Hindi and english). To their comfort i told about me as their neighbour and staying in that apartment pointing my finger. One of them told people gathered here for worship on the occasion of Bonalu and when asked about the animals he tried to avoid me. Few among them stared at me with surprise when a person came to the front and told they will make a feast of the animal. He explained it’s not a meat market, as you make feast in New Year along with friends we too on a festival day. I found few body parts of animals tied to the branches of the neem tree. Nobody told me the connection of the festival with the neem tree, the temple and the animals.
We are living in a time when we think ourselves as modern and responsible. How responsible are we? What to do when law keepers break the law? I noticed a cyberabad police patrolling van standing few metres away. The officials were looking happy and busy in some discussion. I approached the van and asked one among the officials if they are aware of this event and the response was a big laughter. They told we’re all invited here. They behaved as if they don’t know the law. I don’t know the deal between the locals and police officials. I just could not help myself prevent this sorry state of affairs when well-educated locals are not ready to understand the need. Who will educate the tribal? At first i thought of explaining them the difference between killing for a living and killing for fun/superstition. Even a tiger won’t kill unless it feels hungry and in need of food. After proper analysis of the situation i preferred not to enter the spot risking my life. I had my own limitations and the major one is my inability to speak in the local language. I could not stay longer and left the place. I was feeling sorry for the animals as i could not rescue any of them.
As per my understanding, the real issue is not with our ignorance of the law but our beliefs. Because of their age old beliefs they don’t respect the law. We must understand no goddess wants animal sacrifice for our growth and prosperity. Why do they refrain from law breaking activities when law keepers give them full support? Tribal people break the law without proper knowledge of the law and the law makers. It’s the responsibility of law keepers (the police officials and all well educated people) to make them understand the law and the need. We may help ourselves prevent such gory events in some parts with the use of force but there will be no real change without a correct understanding of the need. What sort of education can help us understand the need here? I welcome the government proposal to declare Bonalu as a state festival from next year as it’s the biggest in the telengana region. I urge the government to maintain law and discipline so that people can celebrate it without any animal sacrifice. Government can think to run awareness programmes with the help of NGOs too for greater success of the cause.