Animal sacrifice: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Animal sacrifice

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sheep is led to the altar, 6th century BC Corinthian fresco.
1652 illustration of the Ashvamedha of Kaushalya in the Ramayana epic.

Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practiced by many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature. Animal sacrifice has turned up in almost all cultures, from the Hebrews to the Greeks and Romans and from the Aztecs to the Hindus.

Remnants of ancient rituals of animal sacrifice are apparent in many cultures, for example the Spanish bullfights, or kapparos in Judaism, or ritual slaughter procedures like shechita or ḏabīḥah in Judaism and Islam, respectively.


Ancient world

Animal sacrifices were common throughout the Ancient Near East, as well as some of the Mediterranean islands. For example the Minoan culture of Phaistos on Crete reveals basins for animal sacrifice dating to the period 2000 to 1700 BC.[1] In Ancient Greece, animal sacrifice originated from the homo sapiens. It was on the hunt, that man discovered he felt guilt for killing the animal. From this, they turned it into a celebration of life by offering the animal to the gods as a token of thanks. Usually, the animal would be slaughtered and then carved for eating. The thigh bones would be left for the gods while the people involved in the ritual would eat the rest of the animal. So, not only was this a tribute to the gods but also a way to eat food. This new idea of, sacrificial ritual, was eventually spread throughout all of Greece and became accepted throughout all of society.

Indo-European cultures

Abrahamic traditions


See main article: Korban

Many Jewish sources discuss the deeper meaning behind korbanot. For example, Sefer Hachinuch explains that an individual bringing an animal sacrifice for a sin understands that he personally should have been sacrificed as punishment for the rebellion against God inherent his the sin, but God mercifully accepts the sacrifice in his or her place. Furthermore, it is considered fitting that an animal is used as a sacrifice because at the moment of sin, the individual in question disregarded his elevated human soul, effectively acting as an animal.


References to animal sacrifice appear in the New Testament, such as the parents of Jesus sacrificing two doves (Luke 2:24) and the Apostle Paul performing a Nazirite vow even after the death of Christ (Acts 21:23-26).

The Christ is referred to by his apostles as "the Lamb of God," the one to whom all sacrifices pointed (Hebrews 10), in fulfillment of a, within the Christian context, lacking understanding of such substitution as expressed in Judaism. Some villages in Greece also sacrifice animals to Orthodox saints in a practice known as kourbània.


Wealthy Muslims sacrifice an animal during the Festival of Sacrifice (Eid ul-Adha). This is also the time of Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). Usually a sheep or goat (sometimes cattle or even camel) is sacrificed then distributed to the poor, in commemoration of God's forgiveness of Ibrahim (Abraham) from his vow to sacrifice his son Ismael.


Animal sacrifice was instituted in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), a minor Latter Day Saint faction founded by James J. Strang in 1844. Strang's Book of the Law of the Lord (1851) deals with the topic of animal sacrifice in chapters 7 and 40.

Given the prohibition on sacrifices for sin contained in III Nephi 9:19-20,[2] Strang did not require sin offerings. Rather, he focused on sacrifice as an element of religious celebrations,[3] especially the commemoration of his own coronation as king over his church, which occurred on July 8, 1850.[4] The head of every house, from the king to his lowest subject, was to offer "a heifer, or a lamb, or a dove. Every man a clean beast, or a clean fowl, according to his household."[5]

While the killing of sacrifices was a prerogative of Strangite priests,[6] female priests were specifically barred from participating in this aspect of the priestly office.[7] "Firstfruits" offerings were also demanded of all Strangite agricultural harvests.[8] Animal sacrifices are no longer practiced by the diminunitive Strangite organization, though belief in their correctness is still required.

Neither The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor the Community of Christ, the two largest Latter Day Saint factions, ever accepted Strang's teachings on this (or any other) subject.


Hindu animal sacrifice is know as Bali. Historical animal sacrifice in Vedic religion includes the Ashvamedha. The last known performance of the Ashvamedha was that by Jai Singh II of Amber in 1716.

There are Hindu temples in Assam (India) as well as Nepal where goats and chickens as well as buffaloes are sacrificed. These sacrifices are mainly done at mandirs following the Shakti school of Hinduism where the female nature of Brahman is worshipped in the form of Kali Ma and Durga. There are many village temples in Tamil Nadu where this kind of sacrifice takes place.[9]

In many Shakti shrines of Orissa animals like goat and chicken are sacrificed on Durga Puja in the month of Aswina (September-October) every year. In Sambalpur, this ritual sacrifice is performed in the Samaleswari temple (Pasayat, 2003:67-84).

The two methods used by Hindu's to kill an animal are Jhatka (decapitation with a single blow) and asphyxiation.

Possibly the largest animal sacrifice in the world occurs during Gadhimai festival in Nepal. In the 3 day long sacrifice in 2009 it was speculated that more than 250,000 animals were killed [10] while 5 million devotees attended the festival[11].

In India ritual of animal sacrifice is practised in many villages before local deities. For instance, Kandhen Budhi is the reigning deity of Kantamal in Boudh district of Orissa, India. She is the presiding deity of Kandha people of this area. She is represented in the natural form of stone under a tree on the bank of the river Tel. Every year, animals like goat and fowl are sacrificed before the deity on the occasion of her annual Yatra/Jatra (festival) held in the month of Aswina (September-October). The main attraction of Kandhen Budhi Yatra is Ghusuri Puja. Ghusuri means pig, which is sacrificed once in every three years. Kandhen Budhi is also worshipped at Lather village under Mohangiri GP in Kalahandi district of Orissa, India(Pasayat, 2009:20-24).

Bali Jatra of Sonepur in Orissa, India is also an annual festival celebrated in the month of Aswina (September-October) when animal sacrifice is an integral part of the ritual worship of deities namely Samaleswari, Sureswari and Khambeswari. Bali refers to animal sacrifice and hence this annual festival is called Bali Jatra (Barik, 2009:160-162).


In Santeria, such animal offerings constitute a portion of what are termed "ebos" – ritual activities that include offerings, prayer and deeds. The blood of the animals is thought to hold "aché," or life force.


  1. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Knossos Fieldnotes, The Modern Antiquarian (2007)
  2. ^ Book of Mormon.
  3. ^ Book of the Law, pp. 293-97. See also
  4. ^ Book of the Law, pg. 293.
  5. ^ Book of the Law, pp. 293-94.
  6. ^ Book of the Law, pg. 199, note 2.
  7. ^ Book of the Law, pg. 199. Unlike other Latter Day Saint organizations at this time, Strang permitted women to serve as Priests and Teachers in his priesthood.
  8. ^ Book of the Law, pp. 295-97.
  9. ^ Times of India, Chennai Edition, 4 May 2008
  10. ^
  11. ^
  • Barik, Sarmistha (2009), "Bali Yatra of Sonepur" in Orissa Review, Vol.LXVI, No.2, September, pp. 160-162.
  • Burkert, Walter (1972), Homo Necans pp. 6-22
  • Pasayat, C. (2003), Glimpses of Tribal an Folkculture, New Delhi: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., Pp. 67-84.
  • Pasayat, C. (2009), "Kandhen Budhi" in Orissa Review, Vol.LXVI, No.2, September, pp. 20-24.
  • Petropoulou, M.-Z. (2008), Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200, Oxford classical monographs, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780199218547.

See also

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address