Animal sacrifice is not tolerated by modern civilization but it is still practised in some parts of the world. Munneswaram Temple in Puttalam is a major pilgrimage site in the island.
Even though it is not a popular attraction among foreign travellers, Munneswaram is a sacred destination for the Hindu community in the country. annual animal sacrifice event is organized here in every year with the participation of a large number of Hindus
The annual animal sacrifice event is put off by the leaders of the Munneswaram Sri Maha Badrakali Amman Kovil in Chilaw, Sri Lanka. The event scheduled to be taken place on the 1st of September. The event is considered being one of the important holy ceremonies of the temple.
The event is participated by a large number of Hindu devotees with animals as offerings (slaughter). The event believed to be invoking the blessings of the goddess Kali on the participants. This historical temple is dedicated to God Ishawara and the holiness of the temple can be compared with Koneswarm and Thirukonesawara. A Sivalingam is believed to be enshrined in the temple.
Munneswaram is a remote village in the district of Chilaw. It comes to fore in every year with the annual ritual festival with the participation of large gathering mainly representing the Hindu community. The event is rounded up with the water cutting ceremony in Deduru Oya.
The origin of the temple is dating back to the pre-Christian era or Ramayana period. After defeating Ravana and rescuing Seetha, Rama was heading to India in his “Air chariot”. Suddenly he decided to come down and alight from his chariot in order to worship at the Munneswaram. He had killed Ravana and had a guilty feeling of what he did.
While Rama was worshipping God Shiva in the temple the wife of God Siva, Parwathi, appeared in front of him. She ordered Rama to enshrine three sivlingams in three places on the island namely Koneswaram, Thiruketheeswaram and Munneswaram. It was God Siva, who identified the place north of Mee Oya, to enshrine the relic. Later Rama had built the present temple at Munneswaram, the place where the relic was enshrined.
The festival of animal sacrifice is believed to be an ancient ritual. The origin of the event is not known to many people of the island. But the historical information suggests that it was one sage who started the festival. He was granted all his wishes by the Goddess Amman while he was meditating under a tree.
He had also requested the goddess Amman to bless the devotees assembled there for worship. Since then the event is organized to commemorate the meeting of Amman and sage in the month of August, and religious observances continued until the present day.
Meanwhile, another important relic of a Buddhist monk, who lived in the early days of Buddhism, is demonstrating in the island, parallel to the animal sacrifice. The holy relic is demonstrated in selected temples before it returns to India. Animal slaughter is vehemently condemned in Buddhism. Therefore the Buddhists have requested not to carry on the animal slaughtering while the holy relic is on the island.
This animal sacrifice event is condemned and opposed by a large number of animal rights groups on the island. But the lament of the animal lovers is not heard earlier and the event had taken place as usual.
The opposition for the animal sacrifice in the temple is intensified during the last few years. The event was stopped in 2011 by protestors and animals were rescued. Meanwhile, the several organizations are requesting the government of Sri Lanka to amend the regulations to make such activities unlawful in the country.