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Animal Sacrifice: A Dark History
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Animal Sacrifice: A Dark History

Animal sacrifice is common theme in many of the world’s religions and beliefs. Islam, Hinduism and traditional African beliefs slaughter animals as a major pillar of their beliefs.

Humans have been shedding the blood animals, to appease their gods, since time immemorial, be it the olden Goddess culture of Europe or the blood thirsty Assyrian empire. The Aztecs and other ancient South American cultures were equally blood thirsty. The ancient Canaanites, including the Hebrews, routinely killed their way through the animal kingdom.

Muslims celebrate Eid al Adhar, the Feast of the Sacrifice, and it is a major religious festivity in the Islamic calendar. Muslims are obliged to slaughter animals, and are to kill them as painlessly as possible in accordance with Islamic law. This, unfortunately, is not the case as much cruelty and barbarity is involved.

When camels are slaughtered, they usually have one of their front legs tied up and their back legs roped together so they can barely stand, and their mouths are often tied shut.  The petrified camels are held down with ropes while someone stabs a knife into their throat. The camels bray and thrash about in pain and slowly bleed to death.

Killing an animal painlessly through traditional methods, such as knives, etc, is an oxymoron, a contradiction. The animals, such as goats, oxen, cattle, and camels are already in distress when being transported. They can hear the noise and screams of others being butchered. The animals die slowly, bleeding to death and choking on their blood. It often takes several people to hold down a bull or a goat while somebody slits its throat.

Christianity skipped the actual murder of animals and opted for something symbolic. Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb and was symbolically sacrificed. In the Eucharist, a wafer representing the sacrificed animal is eaten and wine representing blood is drunk at communion.

Judaism in the past was a religion of animals sacrifice, but the practice abandoned when the Roman destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. Animals were slaughtered for a variety of reasons, for the absolving of sins, as a peace offering or as a guilt offering. Sometimes a portion of the animals flesh is burnt or as was in the case of the Patriarch Abraham, the entire animal is offered, thought it is often stressed by the rabbi that animal sacrifice is the lowest form of appeasing a deity. Animal sacrifice is not practiced by Jews today.

Hinduism has not changed much since its Vedic days, and animal sacrifice is rife. Hindus ritualistically slaughter goats, chickens, or any animal they can get their hands on, to please their gods, and to prevent misfortune. The Kali prayer is common in places such as Uttar Pradesh, where goats are traditionally killed while the Hindu priests recite prayers. Pigs are ritually slaughtered in Orissa state. These animals are slaughtered in the belief that good fortune and financial prosperity shall be bestowed on the devotee.

In Hinduism, the ritual killing of animals is carried out by decapitation, driving a spike through the heart, or strangulation.

In Nepal, the three day long festival of Gadhimai festival is especially gruesome with thousands of goats and other animals slaughtered in an orgy of blood letting.

Animal sacrifices are also practiced by people who follow traditional African religions. Many African groups, such as the Zulus of southern Africa, traditionally sacrifice cattle. Cattle are ritualistically slaughtered to appease their ancestors, or to celebrate and commemorate an important occasion such as weddings, the birth of a son. The blood of slaughtered animals is used to sanctify certain areas and the meat eaten.

The religious killing of animals is also practiced in Vodou, where the color of the animal has significance. White is purity, black is evil and red indicates danger.

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  1. Veganara
    Voted. A very powerful blog. I have never understood why so many religions are so bloodthirsty! Presumably the followers all believe in a benevolent god - so why would that god want humans to kill in his name?! I am very disappointed to hear that even Hindus do this - I thought that they respected all forms of life, since so many Hindus are vegetarians. The trouble with religion is, it so often requires you to act in a totally irrational, paradoxical way, doesn't it? I am sure you agree!
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  2. Vin Chauhun
    Vin Chauhun
    Hi Veganara I think the figure is more like about 25% of Hindus are vegetarian, it could be up to 35%. Even then its more out of religious reasons than any actual concern for animals. Gujarat, followed by Rajasthan, then some parts of Uttar Pradesh are vegetarian.
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