Mourners send off 'divine' crocodile

Tearful mourners on Monday sent off a crocodile that was believed to be divine and had survived on a vegetarian diet for decades at a Hindu temple in Kerala.

Babia guarded the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy temple in Kasaragod, lurking in the temple lake for nearly 80 years, said the temple's secretary Ramachandran Bhat.

"The last divine crocodile was shot dead by the British military in 1940 and Babia appeared in the lake after that. We can't say where it came from but the lake is connected to underground caves."

The revered reptile was found floating lifeless in the lake early on Monday after reportedly being off its food for several days. It had not been keeping well for days and was taken to vets at Mangaluru's Pilikula Biological Park, the temple's trustee Udayakumar R Gatty told Malayala Manorama.

"For two days, Babia did not come up for food. We launched a search but could not find it. We then saw it dead in the lake," he said.

Babia was considered holy because it was thought to have never attacked another animal or any human - including children who were taken to the lake's edge to touch the reptile for its blessings.

Many believed Babia survived on prasadam (sacred rice and jaggery blessed and sanctified by priests) but Mr Bhat did not stand by the claim "because there are fish in the lake".

Babia was adorned with flowers and blessed before being carried through the crowd of mourners to its burial spot in the temple compound.

India's Minister for Agriculture and Farmers' welfare Shobha Karandlaje, who believed Babia led a meat-free life, tweeted that "God's own crocodile" had attained salvation.

AFP

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