Over 250 animals, mainly goats and sheep, were sacrificed on the first day of the Yellamma Fair at Kokatanur village in Belagavi district on Friday.
The animals were sacrificed in spite of efforts by the police department and animal rights activists to prevent animal sacrifice at the fair. Local police along with activists of the Bengaluru-based Vishwaprani Dayasangha kept an eye out for instances of animal sacrifices however their efforts would prove to be in pain as devotees thronged the fair and sacrificed animals found in the nearby forest area, reported The New Indian Express.
About 50,000 devotees from North Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa attended the fair and the number is expected to cross 2.5 lakh in the next few days. The animal sacrifice reported takes into account only the first day of the five-day festival. Last year, around three lakh devotees reportedly arrived on the last day of the fair.
Animal sacrifice is a ritual in many villages in North Karnataka, particularly those dominated by minority communities. The fairs where animals are sacrificed are held once in three or four years. Goats and sheep are mainly sacrificed and while the people of the village take away the meat, the bovine meat is shared by Dalits in the village, according to a Times of India report.
The carcasses are taken to the respective villages, cleaned and hung from the branches of trees, to keep it from going stale. The villagers believe that the sacrifice saves them from natural disasters and disease. They also believe that their crops will give a better yield.
The Yellamma Devi Fair is celebrated at the Yellamma Devi temple in Belagavi and attracts pilgrims from as far as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra.