Editorial – From the Horse's Mouth
BLACK MAGIC – DARK TIMES FOR ANIMALS
|Photo Credit: TRAFFIC INDIA|
These are dark times indeed. 'Civilization' continues to progress at a breakneck speed and the human brain performs to hitherto unimaginable capacities. Unfortunately, many human hearts and minds are still enslaved by desires – born out of greed, vanity or revenge. When conventional methods fail to achieve these ends, man turns to unexplainable, yet apparently effective means. And Black Magic happens. More often than not, even in an increasingly modernized society such as India, black magic pervades the common man's life and yes, in the process, animals are hurt.
In July, Thane S.P.C.A. had an unlikely visitor – a gravely injured Olive Ridley turtle. The species is a sparkling representative of all that is awe-inspiring in India's marine wildlife. This particular animal was found lying injured on a village coast – 20 km off Daman beach. Three of its limbs were reduced to stubs – an obvious result of human action. Initially, this was attributed to propellers of fishing trawlers, but later, more sinister facts surfaced, which changed opinions. 'Oliver', as he came to be known, was brought all the way to Thane S.P.C.A's hospital, where he was provided the necessary medication, environment and nutrition. Within a few days of care and shelter, Oliver was much better, but with so many injuries sustained to his limbs and carapace, it was evident that he would never be able to live in the sea again.
Soon after, another Olive Ridley – this time a female who was named Olivia, was found stranded on Juhu Beach and was brought to Thane S.P.C.A. with similar injuries. She was released into the sea soon after, since she was in a fairly stable condition. However, she surfaced a few days later with much more serious injuries – a partial break in the plastron and her left flipper severed (undoubtedly by human action) at the humerus. That is when suspicions were aroused and it came to light that Olive Ridley turtles, among other species of these amphibians, are reportedly, widely used in black magic rituals, not only in Mumbai and surrounding areas, but country-wide.
The flipper doesn't stop there. Other species, such as snakes, chickens and owls, often fall prey to blind superstitions and the dark arts.
It is common belief that being in possession of a sand boa is good for business. Some people also go to the extent of saying that if a sand boa is kept next to a mirror, it is bound to crack and be the harbringer of good news. Obviously not for the snake. In January 2011, TOI reported that the Ulhasnagar crime branch had arrested three people for smuggling a sand boa in an attempt to sell it to three tantriks for Rs 10 lakhs. In October 2009, the TOI reported that the Pune rural police had rescued a sand boa and a turtle from two people who were allegedly attempting to sell them to black magic practitioners. Seven other middlemen and six prospective customers were also arrested. Then Superintendent of police, was quoted to have said that the suspects were planning to sell the sand boa for Rs 50 lakhs and the turtle for Rs 20 lakhs! Evidently, the trade is a lucrative one and also, one that obviously needs immediate looking into by the authorities.
Owls also have always been a source of much fascination in magical folklore and one would think that Harry Potter's owl Hedwig, would have boosted right thinking among movie buffs and HP fans alike. However, in common Indian society, owls continue to be exploited for their apparent importance in black magic.
Tantriks regularly use owls and their body parts in 'sacred' ceremonies. Important owl body parts attributed to effective black magic, include skull, bones, claws, blood, eyes, beak, liver, kidney, meat and eggshells. Some owl species with extra tufts of feathers near their ears are supposed to be more magical than others and therefore in greater demand.
The worst time in the life of an Indian owl, is mid-October to mid-November. This auspicious period of Diwali and Lakshmi puja, spells doom for these nocturnal creatures, who are known to be associated with Lakshmi-the goddess of wealth and prosperity. As such, they are sacrificed during this time in the false belief that sacrificing an owl brings wealth, good luck and prosperity.
They are often caught with bamboo poles, nets and other such traps and during this time, wealth does come to bird catchers who receive anywhere between Rs 10,000-20,000 for every bird caught.
Late last year, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Hon. Minister of Environment and Forests, India, launched TRAFFIC India's report titled 'Imperilled Custodians of the Night: A Study on Illegal Trade, Trapping and Use of Owls in India', authored by Abrar Ahmed, as per reports. According to the reports, owls are used in the live bird trade for many other purposes as well. They are used in street performances, slaughtered for their meat and taxidermy, their body parts used in folk medicines and their feathers/claws in headgear. Often live owls are used as bait/decoys, to acquire other bird species.
According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, exploiting Indian owl populations via hunting and trading is strictly prohibited, but the trade process continues nevertheless, unabated. Of the 30 owl species recorded in India, 15 are allegedly used in the domestic live bird trade spread across the country. In fact, black magic has pushed many of these 15 species to the brink of extinction.
So the next time you witness/participate in or hear of a black magic ritual involving the use of animals, STOP IT. As an Indian citizen, you have every right to bring these barbaric ceremonies to light. And as a sentient human being, it is your duty to do so.
Stay alert and spread the word. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Do your bit to bring light and spread a message of deep spirituality, not religious blindness, so that the darkness of black magic can be dispelled and our animals can breathe freely again.