Chhattisgarh villagers mourn crocodile Gangaram's death, take out funeral procession

After the reptile died in a village pond last week, the villagers, who used to regard the reptile as god, did not cook food that day.

Chhattisgarh villagers mourn crocodile Gangaram's death, take out funeral procession

RAIPUR: Around 500 residents of Bawa Mohtara in Chhattisgarh took out a funeral procession to mourn the death of a crocodile, whom they used to worship as their protector. The crocodile who was around 130-year-old was named 'Gangaram' by the villagers. They touched the carcass to seek its blessings.

After the reptile died in a village pond last week, the villagers, who used to regard the reptile as god, did not cook food that day. They also decided to set up a memorial on the pond's bank where it was buried, sarpanch (village head) Mohan Sahu said. The villagers are even thinking of constructing a temple in Gangaram's memory.

"The villagers had so much affection for the reptile that many of them did not even cook food the day it died. Locals had long back named it 'Gangaram'. They used to worship it as a deity and the protector of the village," he said.

The 3.4 metre-long crocodile was found dead on Tuesday in the village pond. The locals informed the forest department and the carcass was taken out of water.

Sahu claimed that Gangaram lived in the village's main pond for over 100 years as even his late grandfather had seen it there since his childhood.

The villagers, including children, used to bathe everyday in the pond but the reptile never harmed them even when they swam close to it, he said. "In the past, the crocodile had crawled over to some nearby villagesa couple of timesand we had to bring it back to the pond," the sarpanch said.

Praising the villagers' affection for the crocodile, Bemetara's sub-divisional officer of forest R K Sinha said they have set a good example of "human-animal coexistence", when people generally maintain a distance from carnivores. "After getting information about its death, the forest personnel went there and a post-mortem was conducted by veterinarians," he said.

The animal, weighing about 250 kg, died of natural causes, Sinha said. "After the autopsy, the carcass was handed over to the villagers as they wanted to perform it final rites," he added.

(With PTI inputs)