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| Last Updated:: 03/09/2014

No live animals for temple ritual

 MADURAI: The forest department has come down heavily against the practice of capturing foxes for a ritual called 'Nariyai Pariyakkuthal' festival which is set to be celebrated on September 3. An apparent request by authorities of the Meenakshi temple has been turned down by the divisional forest officer (DFO), Nihar Ranajan. 

Ranajan has written to the district collector that it has come to his notice that in the guise of mythological and customary practices, many people will try to hunt and drive jackals or foxes into temples as part of the ritual on September 3. He had stated in his letter that jackal and common fox not only come under IUCN Red List of Threatened Species but are also covered under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, hence such practice as 'Nariyai Pariyakuthal' is cognizable and non-bailable offence as it violates various Sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, he pointed out.

"Chasing of any wild animal from its habitat and driving it to a different habitat and then releasing it again in the wild will disturb the socio ecological niche of the wild animal and will amount to a cognizable and non-bailable offence, under the Act," he said. He appealed to the authorities to extend full support the forest department in curbing and controlling such mythical and criminal practices.

The letter from the DFO is copied to IG, south zone, commissioner of police, Madurai SP and conservator of forests, Madurai circle. A copy has been sent to the assistant commissioner of Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment, Madurai stating that their request for permission (letter reference 2032/2010/O3 dated 22/08/2014) of allowing such practice in Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple, is not accepted and turned down. 

The temple authorities are advised to be aware of the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and help in conserving forests and wildlife, rather than espousing the cause of mythical and unethical practitioners, DFO's note ends with a strong message. Subsequently, all forest range officers of division were instructed to gather intelligence and prevent any such attempts to capture jackals or foxes in their areas.

When contacted, N Natarajan, joint commissioner of Meenakshi temple, said that such practice of bringing a live fox for the ritual was in vogue till three years ago. They have sought permission to forest department this year but their request was turned down, he said. Commenting on this issue, Sriram Janak, wildlife photographer from Madurai said many ancient rituals were connected with animals. "It evolves from nature worship but capturing foxes or jackals for such ritual will not be meaningful at present when conservation of forest and wildlife is given so much thrust. From abundance, the wild animals are in a state of threatened or endangered so capturing foxes for a ritual is wrong," he said.


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