King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, a Hindu, plans to visit the Kamakhya Temple in eastern Assam state to worship the temple's namesake goddess. "The king is going to sacrifice one buffalo, one goat, one duck and one sheep to the goddess," said Anup Sharma, a spokesman at the temple on the outskirts of Gauhati, the capital of eastern Assam state.
The sacrifice--where a lamp is placed on the animal's decapitated head, which is presented with its blood to the goddess--is common at the temple and is part of a tantric Hindu ceremony. Tantric Hinduism aims to acquire and use mystical power.
Although Indian law forbids the killing of animals in public and sacrifice is not practiced at most Indian temples, the centuries-old tradition is common at Kamakhya. "King Gyanendra cannot perform an illegal act on foreign soil. Sacrificing animals at a public place is prohibited by existing laws," said Sangeeta Goswami, chief of animal rights group People for Animals.
The group - which argues that the temple is a public place - hopes to deliver a petition to the monarch upon his arrival in Gauhati, urging him to avoid the animal sacrifice, Goswami said.
Nepalese Embassy spokesman Dhananjya Jha declined to say whether the king would sacrifice any animals, only saying that no goats or buffaloes had been purchased. The visit to the temple comes midway through the king's six-day official visit to India. It is his first trip abroad since he came to the throne after his brother was killed last June in a palace massacre committed by Nepal's crown prince.