Animal sacrifice

Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practised 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 Yoruba.

Remnants of ancient rituals of animal sacrifice are apparent in many cultures, for example the Spanish bullfights, or kapparos in Judaism, or ritual prescriptions for slaughtering procedures like shechita or ḏabīḥah. Slaughtering lambs is a common practise in Islam (the meat being typically consumed, not burned).

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.

Indo-European cultures


''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 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 and the Apostle Paul performing a Nazirite vow even after the death of Christ ().

The Christ is referred to by his apostles as "the Lamb of God," the one to whom all sacrifices pointed (Hebrews 10).


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.


Although many Hindus are vegetarian, there are some temples in India as well as Nepal where goats and chickens 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. Semmunisamy temple in poosariyur village in Erode district of Tamil Nadu is one of the places where this festival takes place every year on the Tamil month of Chithirai.

Hindu way of animal sacrifice/slaughter is called Jhatka where head of the animal is severed completely by a single blow of heavier sword . It is considered as the most merciful and painless death for the animal as spinal chord as well as blood supply to brain are severed immediately . Now a days a big slice of Hindu community disapprove & oppose animal sacrifice in the mane of religion and it has been phased out in many urban areas . It is still a traditional practice in many comparatively conservative rural areas and any attempt to stop that practice are met with resistance in some cases.

Latter Day Saints

Animal sacrifice was instituted in the Book of the Law of the Lord, a scripture accepted by a minor Latter Day Saint faction known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), founded by James J. Strang in 1844. Strang was a lawyer and newspaper editor from New York who had converted to Mormonism just prior to Joseph Smith's murder, and he claimed to have been appointed by Smith to succeed him as the Church President. Although the majority of Latter Day Saints rejected his claims, Strang managed to gain a sizable following before being murdered in 1856.

In 1851, Strang announced publication of the Book of the Law of the Lord, purported to be a translation of the "Plates of Laban" that figure prominently in parts of The Book of Mormon. Chapters 7 and 40 dealt with the topic of animal sacrifices.

Given the prohibition on sacrifices for sin contained in III Nephi 9:19-20, Strang did not require sin offerings. Rather, he focused on sacrifice as an element of religious celebrations, especially the commemoration of his own coronation as king (July 8, 1850). 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.

The killing of sacrifices was a prerogative of Strangite priests, but female priests were specifically barred from participating in this aspect of the priestly office.

"Firstfruits" offerings were also demanded of all Strangite agricultural harvests. Animal sacrifices are no longer practiced by the Strangites, though belief in their correctness is still required.


In Santeria, such animal offerings constitute an extremely small portion of what are termed "ebos" – ritual activities that include offerings, prayer and deeds. Some villages in Greece also sacrifice animals to Orthodox saints in a practise known as kourbània.


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