Stop slaughtering animals, appeals Himachal monastery

IANS, Nov 24, 2010

Shimla, India -- A prominent, centuries-old Buddhist monastery in Himachal Pradesh's Spiti Valley Wednesday appealed to the people to stop slaughtering animals and be more humane to other species, a spiritual head said.

The appeal has been issued in the wake of the upcoming local festive season mainly in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts where a large number of animals are slaughtered annually.

'We have issued an appeal to the people who believe in Buddhism to stop slaughtering the birds and animals and turn to vegetarianism,' Key monastery's spiritual head T.K. Lochan Tulku Rinpoche told IANS.

He said on phone from Key village in Lahaul and Spiti district that the appeal was issued to support the cause of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama who advocates love and compassion to all, including animals.

The monastery is located atop a hill at an altitude of 13,668 ft. It is the biggest in the Spiti Valley and commands a huge respect in the region.

Monastery officials said the purpose of issuing the appeal at this point in time is that the locals are now free from harvesting and will participate in family celebrations only during the next few months.

It's a tradition in the entire district, dominated mainly by the tribals, to celebrate and solemnise functions only during winter.

Octogenarian Sonam Targe said: 'When the entire area is marooned by the snowfall, we usually pass time by stitching clothes and knitting woollens. We celebrate family functions only in winter. Most of the important local festivals also fall during this period.'

'On an occasion, at least 10 animals, mainly goats, sheep and yaks are slaughtered for a feast. But now, this practice will stop altogether as the locals believe in Buddhism,' she said.

The monastery officials said the spiritual head has even warned the locals that if they were caught slaughtering animals, including the wild ones, or drinking liquor, a fine of Rs.20,000 would be imposed.

The area is populated mainly by Buddhists. The climatic conditions of the area are harsh as much of the land falls under a cold desert where the mercury drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius during winter.

The picturesque Spiti Valley, some 350 km from Shimla, is a sanctum-sanctorum of ancient Buddhist monasteries. Mane, Dhankar, Tabo, Gungri, Mud, Lidang, Rangrik, Key, Losar and Hikkim are the prominent monasteries in the area.