Posted by: Noni | January 29, 2020

Crocodile Ceremony

When a friend called to invite me to a ceremony for crocodiles I had no idea what to expect. We spent the morning in the wetlands of south Goa searching for rare and exotic birds then ate lunch and drove to a small village outside Margoa to meet the locals who would share their annual ritual with us.

Wetlands near Margao, Goa

We arrived in a quiet farming region with a small lake and irrigation channels where the annual ceremony would take place. The event was scheduled for 3 pm but like most timings in India started a few hours later.

Typical dwelling for agricultural or fishing families

There was only a handful of attendees but I was to learn later that besides the locals I was amongst the world experts on Crocodiles. The first step was to clear a spot beside the dyke and start bringing mud up from the river.

There was a journalist from Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and a filmmaker who were also documenting the ritual.

The farmers shaped the mud to form a crocodile after which they decorated with shells; using straw to depict the claws. The crude form was then adorned with flowers and offerings were prepared while prayers recited and incense burned

The men used shells and flowers to adorn the mud sculpture
Local family names are called from a book to verify their attendance. Those who don’t participate are held responsible for any future attacks.
They tied knots in an accounting string that shows each family who were represented. (All males)
An egg was placed in a hole at the top of the crocodile but apparently in past they used live chickens.

We also visited a site at the other end of the village where another group had left their offering.

No one knows how long this puja has been used or how many people’s lives have been spared but there are still random occasional attacks.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness these precious moments. Since last May I have be privy to a plethora of experiences that date back hundreds or thousands of years. The culture and history of India is fascinating and marvelous and I have learned many valuable lessons from this exotic land.

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Namaste 🕉

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