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What is Jhatka?

Jhatka is a procedure to slaughter an animal for meat to be consumed by Hindus and Sikhs

 

During Vedic period (from the middle of the second millennium BCE to the middle of the first), ritual animal-sacrifice and eating meat was a predominant custom. Only Brahmins (priestly cast) were to perform the rites.

Upanishads, Mahabharata, Bhagvata Purana bar violence against animals except for ritual killing. Ritual killing is considered as a benevolent act, because the slaughtered animal will attain a higher rebirth in the cycle of reincarnation.

The 'Manu Smiriti' (200 BCE), a Hindu-law book gives the diet rules. It describes ritual sacrifice of specific animals and eating their meat for given purposes.

All animal-slaughter except for ritual killing was strongly condemned, with equal blame on the slaughterer, butcher, cook, and the eater.

 

According to ancient Vedic Hindu customs, the animal was slaughtered by a single strike of a sword or an axe to severe the head (decapitation). This resulted in instantaneous death because the spinal chord was cut off minimizing any pain to the animal.

 

Centuries would pass and Hindus would quit eating beef. Upper castes Indians (specially Brahmins) had become vegetarians, the lower caste Indians (Shudras) ate any thing that was available.

 

Muslims invaded and started to rule India. Muslims ate Halal slaughter based on Quran where the throat of animal was sliced while reciting verses from Quran while the animal faced Mecca. The spinal chord was left in tact till the flowing blood had drained out. Ruling Muslims did not permit any slaughter other than Halal.

Guru Gobind Singh took an issue with the practice of Halal on following grounds.

1. Slicing throat was not instantaneous death causing pain to the animal

2. Reciting Quran verses seemed like a sacrifice to God to expiate the sins of slaughter.

3. Facing of the animal to Mecca seemed for the salvation of the animal.

4. Muslims had no right to impose their religious belief on non-Muslims.

Guru Gobind Singh argued that religious ritual did no good to either the animal or the slaughterer. Let a man satisfy his hunger for flesh if he so chooses. Guru Gobind Singh made Jhatka meat obligatory for Sikhs who wished to eat meat. Eating meat became a personal choice for Sikhs.

Today, Jhatka is only acceptable meat to be consumed by Sikhs and then Hindus. The Jhatka  slaughter is more well defined

Jhatka means an operation with a jerk. The head of the animal is tied to a pole, the hind legs are stretched out and tied to another pole on the opposite side. The head is chopped off with a single stroke of a heavy sharp blade. The animal experiences no pain as the death is instantaneous. There is no religious ritual involved with Jhatka.

 

Akali Takht issued their last Hukamnama (ruling) in 1980 permitting Sikhs to eat meat as long as the animal was slaughtered according to Jhatka.

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