By Swami Harshananda
Sacrificing an animal to please a supernatural deity is a common feature found in many cultures, during the early part of their development. Though formal animal sacrifices of the early Vedic period gradually lost their importance, due to the reformatory movements of the Upaniṣadic sages, a new type of animal sacrifice got into the fabric during the later ages, as aboriginal cultures got integrated into the fold.
The deity was invariably an aspect of Durgā or Kālī and the rituals were very simple. Buffaloes, goats, sheep and cockerels were the usual sacrificial animals. It was believed that these animals would go to heaven. Various reform movements have helped to minimize this practice.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore