‘Vegetarian’ croc makes surprise entry into Kerala temple, retreats after request from priest
Priests of the Sri Ananthapura temple in north Kerala’s Kasaragod had a surprise visitor on Tuesday-- Babiya, the big vegetarian crocodile-- that has made the temple lake its home for many years stepped out and entered the temple premises. Stunned, the priests vouched that this is Babiya’s first entry into the temple.
“Some reports suggest Babiya entered the sanctum sanctorum but it is not correct. However, it came to the temple premises on Tuesday evening and spent some time there and went back after chief priest Chandraprakash Nambisan asked it go to its permanent habitat-- the temple pond,” temple official Chandrasekharan said.
Surprisingly, Babiya the gentle crocodile, is believed to be fully vegetarian. Nobody has any idea how the crocodile came to the temple pond and who named it. But old timers say it has been in the temple pond for more than 70 years and has never had any history of wild behaviour. Babiya’s diet is reported to be offerings from the temple and it comes out immediately after the temple priest calls it.
Some others say circus personnel must have deposited hatchlings years back and one of them survived-- north Kerala is famous for its circus but all that is history now. But it is a fact that Babiya has never attacked anyone.
“The priest feeds Babiya twice a day. At times he puts the rice ball right into its mouth. The priest has a unique chemistry with Babiya. The temple pond has enough fishes and we believe it never attacks or consumes them. It is a fully vegetarian crocodile keeping with the tradition of the ancient temple,” said another employee of the temple.
But wildlife experts say Babiya is a mugger crocodile and temple offerings-- primarily rice and slices of banana and puffed rice-- can be its food supplement. They say in the wild, muggers survive on fish, rodents and reptiles and at times big prey.
The temple is situated in a small village called Ananthapura and many devotees after praying at the temple offer prayers before the lake also. The temple is known as the moolasthanm (original source) of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Devotees believe Babiya is a ‘messenger’ of Lord Padmanabha, Lord Vishnu. Babiya is a star attraction at the temple and it puts in an appearance to visitors during feasting hours only, temple officials said.