Hundreds mourn ‘vegetarian’ crocodile

huhIndian people paid their last respects to a sacred crocodile during a ritual burial ceremony in India. The reptile Babia was considered sacred, also because it was said to have followed a purely vegetarian diet for decades and guarded a Hindu temple. The crocodile would never have attacked any other animal or human – not even children visiting it.

Babia was found lifeless in the lake Monday morning after the reptile was reportedly left without food for several days. It guarded the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple in Kasaragod in the southern state of Kerala, known for its intricate sculptures, and lived in its associated lake for nearly 80 years, temple secretary Ramachandran Bhat told AFP on Monday.

During the funeral ceremony, the scaly corpse was decorated with flowers and blessed before being carried by the crowd of mourners on a palanquin on a bed of coconut leaves and then buried in the temple grounds.

The temple in Kasaragod dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu is about 3000 years old. For centuries, he has been protected by a single “divine” crocodile, Bhat told AFP. “The last divine crocodile was shot down by the British army in 1940 and then Babia appeared in the lake,” Bhat said. No one could say where it came from.

According to believers, Babia lived on ‘prasadam’, a portion of rice and sugar blessed by temple priests. But Bhat did not support this assumption – “because there are fish in the lake”.

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