Sri Lanka to ban animal sacrifices at Hindu temples

Hindus constitute about 12 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population, which is mainly Buddhist

Animal sacrifices at Hindu temples could be banned in Sri Lanka under new plans announced Wednesday, after growing protests over the rituals from the country's Buddhist majority as well as moderate Hindus.

The cabinet approved a proposal put forward by the Hindu Religious Affairs minister to outlaw the ancient practice that is still observed at several temples across the country.

"The legal draughtsman was asked to prepare a bill to ban animal and bird sacrifices at Hindu temples," the government said in a statement.

During religious festivals, some devout Hindus sacrifice goats, chickens and buffalos, expecting good fortune in return.

But the practice has offended animal rights activists, as well as many other Sri Lankans.

Although there is currently no clear law prohibiting animal sacrifices at places of worship, Sri Lankan courts from time to time have issued temporary bans on such practices.

Hindus constitute about 12 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population, which is mainly Buddhist.

Muslims, the third largest religious group in the country, also conduct ritualistic animal sacrifices -- although it appears the law would apply only to Hindus.

The country has experienced waves of religious tension in recent years, with anti-Muslim riots in March leaving three people dead and hundreds of mosques, homes and businesses reduced to ashes.

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