Even as animal welfare activists, spiritual organisations and the police have been campaigning against animal slaughter during the two-day Poleramma Jatara at Venkatagiri, many devotees appeared reluctant to refrain from the age-old practice.
This is evident from the sacrifice of goat, ram, cock and hen in their hundreds, in the open, on the concluding day of the annual jatara on Thursday. Police who tried to prevent the slaughter of animals faced stiff opposition from the devotees, who are keen on continuing the tradition.
According to unconfirmed reports, as many as 50,000 animals were slaughtered and offered as ‘naivedyam’ to Poleramma.
Police managed to stop a group of people transporting 20 goats to Venkatagiri for the Jatara, only after much effort and heated arguments resulting in mild tension at Gudur. But, scores of others were able to take the animals to Venkatagiri for sacrifice.
SP Ramanakumar claimed that the police were able to curtail the practice to some extent. The campaign by members of the Animal Welfare Board, Jeevaraksha Sangham, Blue Cross Society and other organisations appeared to have some effect as many devotees were seen offering pumpkins, instead of animals, to the goddess.
“Poleramma Thalli always wants to be bathed in blood. If we stop this age-old practice, it will spell doom for Venkatagiri,” said K Varalakshmi, a devotee.
Meanwhile, thousands thronged the small shrine to offer prayers to the goddess during the two-day festival which concluded with the immersion of the clay idol in Kaivalya river on Thursday.