Animal Sacrifice

September 13, 2011 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan minister led a protest march on Tuesday that forced organisers to abandon an annual Hindu sacrifice ritual in which hundreds of goats were due to slaughtered. Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva, a member of the Buddhist majority, arrived at the Munneswaram Hindu temple, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Colombo, with 200 supporters to stop the traditional religious ceremony.

“This (sacrifice) is not something that is good for the image of Sri Lanka,” he told the private Sri FM radio station. “We have taken away the animals and if there are any rightful owners, they can make a claim.”

Police had earlier said they had a court order to halt the animal sacrifice after requests from activists, but state radio reported that the judiciary had refused to intervene.

The grisly ritual, in which goats are decapitated in public using a large hatchet, was first banned in the 1980s but was revived as locals believe the animals’ blood grants favours from the gods.

Officials said security in the area had been stepped up because of fears of unrest between rival religious factions.

The Sri Lanka Animal Welfare Trust had also appealed to President Mahin