By Kamlesh Singh
This year, there has been a torrent of anti-animal-slaughter messages on social media. There was a virtual campaign asking people to be kind to goats in the run-up to Eid al-Adha, the day when animals, mostly goats, are slaughtered in large numbers.
There’s a call for “Bloodless Eid”, hashtags in place.
Slaughter of animals is not a pretty sight and can put one off meat for life. All that blood and gore is hardly safe for children to see.
I am against all ritualistic killing of animals. Have your Eid, but do not kill because you have to. There’s no compulsion in religion, right?
As an atheist, I do not believe there is a god up there, so a god being pleased with sacrifice of a goat is fanciful at best.
Yet, I felt no connection with the #BloodlessEid on my timeline. Because the love for animals was conditional.
A quick glance at the handles that tagged me to the campaign showed they all seemed to balk at the sustained social media and news media campaigns against crackers on Diwali and chemical colours on Holi. Demanding a tit-for-tat censure of ritualism of faith.
I love animals and goats are lovely creatures. I also eat meat. I am culturally conditioned to not ache with emotional conflict. I could never eat beef for the same reason, even after I gave up religion.
I will never be able to eat dog meat, though I have known people who do. It’s not as if I find a living goat mouth-watering, but a well-cooked mutton dish can do the trick. Again, culturally conditioned.
I have witnessed animal sacrifice during Dussehra and Diwali, celebrated as Durga Puja and Kali Puja respectively, in the part of the world I grew up in. On these occasions, the meat is treated as Prasad or Prasadam.
It’s an offering to the goddesses as goats are sacrificed in the temple complex. Not far from where I grew up, there is a temple where large animals like buffalos are sacrificed, and believing Hindus partake in the feast.
Alas, this latest social media love for animals is a mix of vegetarian righteousness and plain anti-Muslim bigotry.
In rural Hindu households in large parts of India, the sacrificial goat is raised with love and fed well for months and often a couple of years, before it turns into food. It may sound horrifying to some, but to the families concerned, it’s all right.
The same happens in Muslim households who believe the sacrificial goat has to spend some time with the family for the latter to develop familiarity with the animal, since sacrifice must involve giving up something dear to you.
Goats, in any case, are raised to be mutton. Unlike bulls and cows, they have no other role in the rural economy.
This latest campaign is run by vegetarians who do not approve of eating habits other than their own. It began as a campaign against beef, went over to buffalos, and now includes goat meat as well.
Make no mistake about it, when they are done with this newfound love for goats, they would come for meat-eaters in general.
The so-called right way of life is increasingly becoming a threat to the diversity we keep flaunting in front of the rest of the world. This false supremacy of purity and piety pays lip-service to unity in diversity while wishing for an end to all diversity. I will support a Bloodless Eid the day it’s against mindless ritualism of faith, and not grudging a community its rituals.
Kamlesh Singh is a Journalism student. Ed honcho at the India Today Group Mediaplex.