Indian faithful flock to ‘drinking’ idols

Thousands of people flocked to temples in northern India on Monday hoping to see a miracle as word spread that idols of Hindu gods were drinking milk, television reports said.

Television pictures showed milk disappearing as people held up spoons full of the liquid to idols of deities such as Lord Shiva, Ganesha and goddess Durga in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

“I offered milk to Durga and she drank the spoonful,” Revati Sharma, a government employee said in the state capital, Lucknow. “The milk just disappeared.”

Monday is considered an auspicious day to worship Shiva, the god of destruction.

“Even Shiv’s lingam [revered phallus] drank milk. I feel blessed by the god,” said visitor Rukmani Devi.

Word started spreading late on Sunday in a temple in Bareilly town. By Monday morning, life nearly came to a standstill as people scrambled to get into the temples.

“Over 15 000 people must have visited this temple since morning. We expect a heavy rush in the evening,” said priest Ram Surat Upadhaya at the city’s Hanuman temple.

Scientists attributed the phenomenon to capillary action by which porous surfaces draw up liquid.

Monday’s incident was a near repeat of a similar occurrence in 1995 when thousands of people nationwide flocked to temples after hearing that idols of Ganesha were “drinking” milk out of spoons.

In another incident last week, hordes of people rushed to a beach in western Mumbai city after hearing that the water had turned sweet.

Many believed it to be a blessing from a revered 14th-century Sufi saint and filled up plastic bottles and jars to take the muddy water home for their relatives, despite health warnings by civic authorities.

Scientists later said that the water’s salinity had declined because of heavy rains that resulted in an overflow from nearby rivers. — AFP

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