Saturday, February 18, 2012

Killing for Kali: Hinduism

Human sacrifice has always been an anomaly in India. Even 200 years ago, when a boy was killed every day at a Kali temple in Calcutta, blood cults were at odds with a benign Hindu spiritualism that celebrates abstinence and vegetarianism. But Kali is different. A ferocious slayer of evil in Hindu mythology, the goddess is said to have an insatiable appetite for blood. With the law on killing people more strictly enforced today, ersatz substitutes now stand in for humans when sacrifice is required. Most Kali temples have settled on large pumpkins to represent a human body; other followers slit the throats of two-meter-tall human effigies made of flour, or of animals such as goats. 

 In secret ceremonies, however, the grizzly practice lives on. Quite simply, say the faithful--known as tantrics--Kali looks after those who look after her, bringing riches to the poor, revenge to the oppressed and newborn joy to the childless. So far this year, police have recorded at least one case of ritual killing a month. In January, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, a 24-year-old woman hacked her three-year-old son to death after a tantric sorcerer supposedly promised unlimited earthly riches. In February, two men in the eastern state of Tripura beheaded a woman on the instructions of a deity they said appeared in their dreams promising hidden treasures. Karmakar killed Manju in Atapur village in Jharkhand state in April. 

The following month, police dug up the remains of two sisters, aged 18 and 13, in Bihar, dismembered with a ceremonial sword and offered to Kali by their father. Last week on the outskirts of Bombay, maize seller Anil Lakshmikant Singh, 33, beheaded his neighbor's nine-year-old son to save his marriage on the advice of a tantric. Said Singh: "He promised that a human sacrifice would end all my miseries." Far from ancient barbarisms that refuse to die, sacrifice and sorcery are making a comeback. Sociologists explain the millions who now throng the two main Kali centers in eastern India, at Kamakhya and Tarapith, as what happens when the rat race that is India's future meets the superstitions of its past. Source

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