Bhawanipatna: The roads of Bhawanipatna acquired a tinge of red as thousands of animals were sacrificed at the famous annual Chhatar Jatra of Goddess Manikeswari, the presiding deity of Kalahandi district with over two lakh devotees participating in the annual festival after a gap of two years. The event was held without public participation during last two years due to the Covid-19 restrictions in force.
However, over two lakh devotees participated in the festival this year. The procession of ‘chhatar’ representing Goddess Manikeswari was taken out to Jenakhala on the outskirts of Bhawanipatna from the temple after completion of late-night secret rituals. The ceremonial ‘chhatar’ later, returned to the temple in a procession. Thousands of animals were sacrificed during this period on a three-km stretch of road starting from the temple to Jenakhala. The devotees who had promised for animal sacrifice on the fulfillment of their wishes were seen participating in the gory ritual. The district had organised awareness programme to discourage people from animal sacrifice but that had little impact on people indicating a victory of faith over reason. The district admin had made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order during the festival.
Over 20 platoons of police force led by an ASP, eight DSPs, 18 IICs, 32 SIs and 50 ASIs were deployed during the festival to control the madding crowd. However, police were seen struggling to control the crowd. Serious traffic problem was witnessed on half-km stretch of road in the town. Over 22 cultural outfits participated in this festival and performed during the event. Notably, the Supreme Court had stayed the Orissa High Court’s order of banning animal sacrifice during Chhatar Jatra.