Gujarat: 'Sacred' Crocodile Crawls Into Temple; Devotees Gather To Worship It
Devotees at Gujarat’s Khodiyar Mata temple had a surprise visitor on June 25 – a crocodile. Believed to be Goddess Khodiyar’s mode of transport, it was a ‘miracle’ for several worshippers of the temple’s deity.
Till the forest department came to its rescue, the giant crocodile crawled into and quietly rested at the sanctum sanctorum, with devotees offering it prayers.
Gujarat: Forest Department officials yesterday rescued a crocodile that strayed into Khodiyar Mata temple in Mahisagar district; the rescue was allegedly delayed due to the villagers who gathered at the temple to offer prayers to the crocodile. pic.twitter.com/Y5ILxgKTe0
— ANI (@ANI) June 24, 2019
Mahisagar’s Deputy Conservator of Forests R M Parmar said that the devotees gathered at the temple delayed the rescue operation by about two hours. “When our personnel reached there to rescue the crocodile, people opposed it. We waited for two hours as we did not want to hurt religious sentiments. However, later, we managed to get the reptile to a nearby pond,” Gulf News India quoted Parmar as telling news agency ANI.
The giant crocodile, weighing 17 kgs and is six feet long, was rescued and released into a nearby pond.
In January this year, residents of an entire village mourned the death of ‘Gangaram’, a 130-year-old sacred crocodile which residents of the Bawa Mohtara village in Bemetara district worshiped as their protector.
After its death, villagers took out a funeral procession and did not cook for the day.
A crocodile named Babiya guards the famous Ananthapura Lake Temple in Kerala. According to a legend, the reptile is the temple’s local guardian. It is said that it only eats temple prasad made of rice and jaggery, and does not hurt anyone, not even the fish in the lake. Guarding the temple for over six years, it is believed to be vegetarian.
Residents of Adulshem village in Goa worship crocodiles for bountiful crop yields. As part of an annual agrarian cultural expression, they create a dummy crocodile out of silt extracted from the land, and chant prayers for a better fish and crop yield.
Karachi’s Mangho Pir’s shrine attracts scores of devotees, who make sure to feed crocodiles in a pond, which are subject to many myths. They are fed meat and sweets like halwa.
A part of a festival called the Sheedi Mela, members of an ethnic group called Makrani community call out the biggest and heaviest crocodiles from the pond. They then feed the crocodiles, shower them and adorn them with red roses.
Crocodiles are Schedule 1 animals (provided absolute protection) as per the Indian Wildlife (Protection Act), 1972. Once found in abundance in all rivers of India, the reptile is now limited to just a few rivers.