An extraordinary congregation of more than 100 deities will meet in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, this month to give a divine verdict on the prohibition of animal slaughter at religious places, following a landmark ruling by the state High Court to ban animal sacrifices at religious ceremonies.
The 'God's Conclave' called 'Jagati Puch' is a unique tradition in the Kullu Valley, wherein deities 'assemble' in extraordinary situations and give their verdicts through 'oracles'.
Essentially, palanquins of local deities are carried to the temple and the locals believe that they communicate and discuss through oracles, who ultimately give their decision to the erstwhile ruler of Kullu Maheshwar Singh, chief representative of Lord Raghunath, the valley's chief deity.
"We have invited all the deities to decide whether the ban on animal slaughter is acceptable," Maheshwar Singh told IANS, adding that over 100 deities were expected to "assemble" in Naggar village, 25 km from Kullu town.
The divine meeting, which is slated for 26 September, comes in reaction to a High Court order prohibiting animal slaughter at religious ceremonies.
Animals, such as buffalos, sheep or chickens are sacrificed at the end of the centuries-old Kullu Dussehra with the belief of bringing prosperity.
In a landmark judgment on 1 September, the HC had banned the sacrifice of animals in temples, saying they cannot be permitted to be killed in a barbaric manner to appease the gods.
"No person throughout the state shall sacrifice any animal in any place of public religious worship, including all land and buildings near such places of religious worship which are ordinarily connected to religious purposes," observed judges Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur, IANS reported.
The HC order has flared emotions over breaking the tradition. "It is not the issue of Dussehra alone but also a question on religious beliefs. We will approach the Himachal Pradesh High Court on the issue and fight till our last breath to keep age old traditions alive," Singh told The Times of India.
Even as the gods are yet to decide on whether animal sacrifices should be prohibited, Singh along with the Kullu Devi Devta Kardar Sangh have decided to file review petition in the HC.
This is not the first time the gods will be coming together to discuss earthly matters in the region.
The last 'Jagati Puch' was held in February 2006, after a gap of 35 years, to decide the fate of a Himalayan Ski Village project promoted by Alfred Ford of Ford Motor Co. The deities, in a divine judgment, had turned down the ₹1,600-crore project.