KASARAGOD, INDIA (AFP) – Hundreds of people attended a funeral on Monday of a crocodile believed to have been divine and survived for decades on a vegetarian diet at a Hindu temple in India.
Babia guarded the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple in the southern state of Kerala, lurking in the surrounding lake for nearly 80 years, the temple’s secretary Ramachandran Bhat said.
The revered reptile was found floating lifeless in the lake early on Monday after reportedly being off its food for several days.
The temple in Kasaragod is 3,000 years old, and has been protected for centuries by a lone “divine” crocodile, Bhat told AFP.
“The last divine crocodile was shot dead by the British military sometime in 1940 and after that Babia appeared in the lake,” Bhat said.
“We can’t say where it came from, but the lake is connected to caves underneath,” Bhat said.
Babia was considered holy because it was thought never to have attacked another animal or any human – including children who were brought to the lake’s edge to touch the reptile to gain its blessings.
Many believed it survived on ‘prasadam’, sacred helpings of rice and jaggery blessed and sanctified by the temple priests.