Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Indians Rush to Temples to Feed "Thirsty" Idols

"It is amazing. Lord Ganesha drank milk from my hands."

As reported by Reuters

LUCKNOW, India -- Thousands of people flocked to temples across India on Monday following reports that idols of Hindu gods were drinking milk given by devotees as sacred offerings, witnesses said.

Teenagers, adults and the aged stood in long lines with garlands and bowls of milk to feed the idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, they said.

Hundreds chanted hymns in the northern city of Lucknow and the eastern city of Kolkata and went into hysterics when the milk held against the idols disappeared.

"It is amazing, Lord Ganesha drank milk from my hands. Now he will answer all my prayers," said Surama Dasgupta, a middle-aged woman in Kolkata.

The frenzy began late on Sunday in some northern cities and soon spread across the country, including the capital New Delhi, even as rationalists and non-believers called it mass hysteria.
A similar mania gripped the country in 1995 when thousands of Hindus fed milk in spoons to marble idols of Lord Ganesha.

That rumor spread across the globe and there were reports of Hindu deities drinking milk in London, New York and Italy.

"It is very natural for any stone idol to absorb any liquid and the older the stone the more it absorbs," M.P. Singh, a geology professor at Lucknow University, told Reuters.

The "milk miracle" came days after thousands of people in the financial hub of Mumbai drank water from a murky Arabian Sea creek as they thought it had miraculously turned sweet and could cure illnesses.

But police stepped in and stopped people after Mumbai's civic officials said the water could have temporarily lost its salinity due to pollution and inflow of freshwater from a nearby source.