animal sacrifices

Sacrificing an animal to please a supernatural deity is a common feature found in many cultures, including that of Hinduism, during the early part of their development. Though formal animal sacri-fices of the early Vedic period gradually lost their importance, due to the reformatory movements of the Upaniṣadic sages, Jainism and Buddhism, a new type of animal sacrifice got into the fabric of Hinduism during later ages, as aboriginal cultures got integrated into the Hindu fold.

The deity was invariably an aspect of Durgā or Kālī and the rituals were very simple. Buffaloes, goats, sheep and cockerels were the usual sacrificial victims. It was believed that these victims would go to heaven.

Various reform movements have helped to minimise this practice.

See also NIRŪḌHA PAŚUBANDHA and SOMAYĀGA.