God’s own crocodile: Kerala temple accords ‘bhu samadhi’ to Babiya
A Kerala temple on Monday performed the unusual act of granting “bhu samadhi” to Babiya, a crocodile that had passed away in the shrine’s pond on Sunday night and was later determined to have died of old age.
Babiya was given a ceremonial burial with all the prayers necessary for a Hindu “sanyasi’s” final rites because crocodiles have a special place in the tradition of the Sree Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple at Kumbla in the Kasaragod area. Babiya’s body was held in a mobile freezer for a number of hours prior to the burial so that the followers could pay respects to the “holy soul”.
“We had the rituals and prayers associated with the burial of a Hindu swamiji. The body was lowered to the pit near the temple. In future, devotees can come and pray at the ‘samadhi’,’’ said temple trust board chairman Udaya Kumar.
Prior to this, devotees’ claims that Babiya was a vegetarian crocodile made headlines, and when it was observed eating temple gifts, it was said to have gained celestial status (rice and jaggery).
“We deny the crocodile was entirely vegetarian. But it used to eat the temple’s offerings,” Udaya Kumar added.
Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Shoba Karandlaje posted on Twitter to express her condolences for Babiya’s passing: “Babiya, the God’s own crocodile of Sri Ananthapura Lake shrine has attained Vishnu Padam.” For more than 70 years, the divine crocodile guarded the temple and subsisted in the lake of the temple by consuming Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy’s rice and jaggery prasadam.
Nobody has ever heard of the crocodile being aggressive or attacking a follower. It coexisted with fish in the temple pond. It was discovered on the sanctum sanctorum steps of the temple two years prior.
Since there is no river or other body of water nearby, there are no documents at the temple that would explain how this crocodile got to the temple pond. According to temple history, a British soldier killed a crocodile at the shrine in 1945, and a few days later, another one showed up. Babiya was therefore thought to be in her 70s.
Nobody knows when or why the male crocodile was given the name Babiya, according to the chairman of the temple trust board.Another explanation for the crocodile’s existence is that the ancient temple, which is located in a pond, held a vast collection of priceless items. The temple administrators had raised a crocodile in the pond to deter thieves or adversaries from stealing the wealth. In the past, crossing the pond was the only way to get to the temple. Later, a bridge was built across the pond and leading to the temple.
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