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Gorakhpur, April 12, 2017: Tarkulha Devi, a temple in Gorakhpur has been following an uncanny ritual which involves animal sacrifice, Bali as it is called among the local folklore. The practice has its roots in the lore of a martyr who was hanged by the British 160 years ago.

Tarkulha is one of the many manifestations of Goddess Durga. The goddess derives the name Tarkulha Devi from the tarkul (palm) tree.

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The temple witnesses devotees coming from all over to sacrifice goats almost daily either as thanksgiving for the fulfillment of their wishes or to ward off the evil eye. The sacrifices heave on Navami and Dashami during the Navratri. It is known that over 500 goats are sacrificed each on Navami and Dashami alone, mentioned HT report.

“The entire year, people visit the temple to offer a sacrifice when their wishes are fulfilled. But the number increases during Navratri,” stated Dinesh Tiwari, a priest at the Tarkulha Devi temple. And those who don’t wish to sacrifice animals offer coconuts to the goddess, he further added.

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Ordinarily, Navratra is a period throughout which Hindus abstain consuming non-vegetarian food.

Devotees from far-flung areas, including Bihar and Nepal, visit the temple and propose animal sacrifice to appease the deity. Most adherents bring the goats with them while the others buy from shops outside the temple for Rs 2,500 or more. The animal is then bathed and offered sweets, a butcher beheads the sacrificial goat consequently.

“It is a long-standing tradition. The devotees, whose wishes are fulfilled, sacrifice the goats and distribute its meat as prasad,” told Manohar Tripathi, a devotee associated with the temple.

The meat is distributed as ‘prasad’ (consecrated food) to the faithful who cook it in earthen pots and enjoy a feast on the temple premises. The animal waste is buried.

The history of the temple is connected with Bandhu Singh, a devotee of Tarkhula Devi. Singh was hanged by the British who found him guilty of killing their soldiers.

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Bandha Singh, skilled in guerilla, used to worship Goddess Tarkhula under a tarkul (tree along with Gurra river which used to flow through dense forest), said Dr. PK Lahiri, member of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (Intach).

“Bandhu Singh used to sacrifice animals and offer heads of the British at the feet of Devi,” said Dinesh Tiwari.

Bandhu Singh beheaded the British when they traversed the forest. As the news proliferated and reached to a British official, the court sentenced him to death. However, the rope broke thrice at the time of the crucifixion.

The fourth time, he implored the goddess for mercy, declaring he was in extreme pain, and his prayer was answered. Finally, he was publicly executed at Alinagar crossing on August 12, 1857.

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“Every time, the noose was placed around his neck and the lever was pulled, the rope broke and he escaped miraculously till he was finally executed. It is said that at the time of Bandhu Singh’s execution, a thunderstorm hit the area. The branch of a Tarkul tree, where he used to worship the goddess, broke and blood started oozing out of it,” Lahiri told HT.

Ever since then, people commenced idolizing Tarkulha Devi. They started offering sacrifices the same way Bandhu Singh did when he was alive.

– Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter: Nainamishr94


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