British Hindus vow to save sacred bull

By Duncan Hooper


British Hindus are vowing to do all they can to protect a sacred bull from slaughter after it was diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis.

Shambo in his specially constructed shrine. There are around 800,000 Hindus in Britain

The animal, called Shambo, is kept by the Skandavale Temple in Llanpumsaint, south west Wales.

The authorities insist it must be culled after testing positive for the cattle disease, which can be transmitted to humans.

But the Hindu Forum of Britain has promised to form a human chain around the temple to save the bull, which Hindu chiefs insist is isolated and in a healthy condition.

The temple has promised to keep the animal, which will never enter the food chain, in isolation for the rest of its life but requests for a reprieve have been rejected.

"To have a sacred bull from the temple slaughtered is completely unthinkable for us and is a matter of grave concern," said Ramesh Kallidai, secretary-general of the Hindu Forum.. "It strikes at the very core of our beliefs."

He believes Shambo could be vaccinated and doesn't pose a risk to other animals or people.

However, the Welsh Assembly, which has responsibility for the matter, maintains that the bull must die.

"We fully understand that this can be distressing for the owners, but these measures are in place to protect public health and animal health and prevent the further spread of the disease," she said.

Skandavale Temple, known as the Community of the Many Names of God, is a multi-faith monastic centre in Wales with a 115-acre site and three Hindu shrines, attracting more than 90,000 pilgrims every year.

A petition to save Shambo has been established at www.wevaluelife.org (external - login to view).