That’s ten needless human deaths on top of 30,000 needless goat deaths. NPR reports today that ten Indians were killed in a bizarre religious episode:
An argument over sacrificing goats during a Hindu festival triggered a stampede that killed 10 people Sunday in a packed temple in northern India, officials said.
More than 40,000 people, many inebriated, had taken their goats to the Tildiha village temple in Bihar state to offer sacrifice and prayers to the goddess Durga on the last day of the Navratri festival.
As the worshippers lined up before the butcher, a scuffle broke out and some people were trampled, Banka district spokesman Gupdeshwar Kumar said.
“People were vying with each other to get their goats sacrificed first, and they had a verbal duel with the butcher,” Kumar said.
Four women and six men died in the stampede, and another 11 were injured, three of them critically, Banka district police director Neelmani said. The injured were being treated in hospitals.
Villager Umesh Kumar, 35, said the temple was so full, “people didn’t have any place to walk around … and there was a commotion when people tried to have their goats sacrificed.”
The district spokesman said some 30,000 goats were sacrificed at the temple on Saturday.
The 10-day Navratri festival honors Durga, the Mother Goddess in the Hindu religion.
The village in Banka district is about 120 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Bihar’s state capital, Patna.
It’s hard to impute this tragedy to anything other than religion. People like Robert Wright and Robert Pape can claim (wrongly, I think) that foreign occupation is the overwhelming cause of suicide bombings in the Middle East, implying that maybe those deaths would still occur without religion. Others claim that the troubles in Northern Ireland resulted from historical/political and not religious divisions. But it’s hard to see how any of these deaths—human or goat—would have occurred had there not been a need to propitiate gods.