New book: Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia

Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia, edited By Daniela Berti & Anthony Good

Routledge (Religion in Contemporary Asia Series), 2024.

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.


Daniela Berti & Anthony Good: Introduction: The judicialisation and politicisation of sacrifice (Open Access)

Anthony Good: Animal sacrifice, politics and the law in Tamil Nadu, South India (Open Access)

Daniela Berti: Animal sacrifice on trial: Moral reforms and religious freedom in India (Open Access)

Aya Ikegame: Hidden meanings of buffalo sacrifice: Dalit defiance and the working of law and the state in South India

Deonnie G. Moodie: On blood, power, and public interest: The concealment of Hindu sacrificial rites under Indian law

Raphaël Voix: ‘Who belled the cat?’ The magistrate, the king, the pandit and the abolition of animal sacrifice in a Bengali town

Ritwick Dutta: The last straw on the camel’s back: Analysing judicial decisions and legal approaches on protection of camels in India

Chiara Letizia & Blandine Ripert: ‘Not in the name of dharma’: A judgment of the Supreme Court of Nepal on mass sacrifices at the Gaḍhī Māī Melā (Open Access)

C.J. Fuller: Afterword

Cite this blog post
Stéphane Gros (2023, October 19). New book: Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia. The Himalayas and beyond. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from

Stéphane Gros

Stéphane Gros is a social anthropologist at the CNRS (France), Centre for South Asian and Himalayan Studies (CESAH). He is the author of a monograph on the Drung of Northwest Yunnan province in China (La Part manquante, 2012), and has written numerous articles and book chapters on issues of interethnic relations and representations of ethnic minorities, poverty and categorization, as well as rituals and cosmology. He has edited or co-edited four collections of relevance to ethnographic theory, Chinese studies, and area studies. For 2012-2016, he was the Principal Investigator for a collaborative project titled "Territories, Communities, and Exchanges in the Kham Sino-Tibetan Borderlands", funded by a ERC (European Research Council) Starting Grant. His personal research currently investigates aspects of kinship and social organization, conversion to Christianity, as well as heritage politics and environmental discourses.

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