DEHRADUN: Breaking away from centuries-old tradition, chief priest of Chandi Mandir has prohibited the animal sacrifice in Haridwar, for the first time.
The revered temple, also called Dakshin Kali Mandir, is located on top of Neel Parvat, where thousands devotees, including those practising ‘tantra shadhna’, visit throughout the year.
The practice of animal sacrifice is centuries old. Many locals claimed that it continues clandestinely in the holy city during “saptami” (seventh day), as the ritual is an integral part of Kali puja but no one wants to talk about the rituals that are performed in the night.
Till last year, a goat was sacrificed at Chandi Mandir, but age old ritual was discontinued this year, said the temple’s head priest.
“The tradition (animal sacrifice) is very old — around 800 years old. Every year, on saptami (seventh day of Navratra), a goat was sacrificed. I decided to discontinue the practice because a hue and cry was made by many during this time of the year, and it disturbed me and others in the temple,” said Peethadhiswar Mahant, Kailashnand Brahmachari.
The temple finds mention in Hindu mythology which states that the Goddess had stayed here after slaying two demons — Shumbh and Nishumbha. According to the legend, the temple was first revived in the 8th century by Adi Shankracharya who had visited Uttarakhand and then Kamraj Baba, stayed in the “sidhpeeth”.
While deciding to stop animal sacrifice, the chief priest also urged people to abstain from eating non-vegetarian food. “The animal sacrifice must be stopped in all religions and people must desist from eating non-veg,” said Brahmachari.
The decision to abandon the age old tradition was taken after consulting the Goddess for which a ritual was carried out in the temple. Refusing to divulge the exact ritual, the priest said, “I cannot tell much about secret rituals, but Maa (Chandi) during that (ritual) had agreed to abolish the old tradition of sacrifice. On ‘saptami’, we had a day-long chanting of ‘shlokas’ as per tradition and there was no animal sacrifice.”
The temple has been a place of abode of many great spiritual sages like Kamraj Baba. “The great sage Totapuri Maharaj meditated here in the temple who later became of guru of the famous priest of Kolkata’s Maa Kali temple at Dakshineshwar. Shri Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Datiyavale who built the temple of Maa Bagulamukhi in Datia (MP) stayed here and was a disciple of Kamraj Baba,” said the chief priest.
The temple’s present structure was built in 1929 AD by Suchat Singh, a ruler of Kashmir. “The land ownership to temple management was given by Mughal emperor Akbar when he had visited here. According to legend, he wanted to take the Goddess’s idol but could not do so and it was during this time that he got a divine message to stop the exercise and do something for the shrine. He immediately handed over the entire track of land to the temple. The same ownership was endorsed by the British later,” said Brahmachari.