This book presents original research on the controversies surrounding animal sacrifice in South Asia through the lens of court cases. It focuses on the parties involved in these cases: on their discourses, motivations, and contrasting points of view. Through an examination of judicial files, court decisions and newspaper articles, and interviews with protagonists, the book explores how the question of animal sacrifice is dealt with through administrative, legislative, and judicial practice. It outlines how, although animal sacrifice has over the ages been contested by various religious reform movements, the practice has remained widespread at all levels of society, especially in certain regions. It reveals that far from merely being a religious and ritual question, animal sacrifice has become a focus of broader public debate, and it discusses how the controversies highlight the contrast between ‘traditional’ and ‘reformist’ understandings of Hinduism; the conflict between the core legal and moral principles of religious freedom and social progress; and the growing concern with environmental issues and animal rights.

The Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 7 of this book are available for free in PDF format as Open Access from the individual product page at www.taylorfrancis.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International license. Funded by Centre National de la Recherche Scientific.

chapter |50 pages


The judicialisation and politicisation of sacrifice

chapter 2|52 pages

Animal sacrifice on trial

Moral reforms and religious freedom in India ∗

chapter 3|19 pages

Hidden meanings of buffalo sacrifice

Dalit defiance and the working of law and the state in South India

chapter 4|22 pages

On blood, power, and public interest

The concealment of Hindu sacrificial rites under Indian law

chapter 5|22 pages

‘Who belled the cat?’

The magistrate, the king, the pandit and the abolition of animal sacrifice in a Bengali town

chapter 6|18 pages

The last straw on the camel's back

Analysing judicial decisions and legal approaches on protection of camels in India

chapter 7|52 pages

‘Not in the name of dharma’

A judgment of the Supreme Court of Nepal on mass sacrifices at the Gaḍhī Māī Melā ∗

chapter |5 pages