COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan court has ordered an annual sacrifice ritual in which hundreds of goats are slaughtered to be halted after a petition by animal rights activists, police said Tuesday.
About 700 goats and scores of chickens were to be sacrificed on Tuesday during a traditional religious ceremony at the Munnewaram temple, just north of the capital Colombo.
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 wards off evil spirits.
“The Appeal Court on Monday directed the police to prevent the slaughter of animals that would take place,” police spokesman Prishantha Jayakkody told AFP.
He said lawyers appearing for the petitioners argued that it was unclear who had authority over the temple, and that the slaughter was cruel.
The Sri Lanka Animal Welfare Trust had also appealed to President Mahinda Rajapakse to stop the ceremony, which saw some 300 goats sacrificed last year.