On January 8, Gangaram — who was nearly 130 years old — breathed his last.
The crocodile that ate rice and daal left a whole village grieving.
Gangaram was both loved and revered by the residents of Bawamohatra, a village in Bemetra district of Chhattisgarh.
The villagers reportedly started weeping as soon as they realised Gangaram was no more.
The old crocodile died of natural causes.
People from Village Bawamohatra (Bemetra District, Chhattisgarh) gathered near community pond & started weeping after they saw a crocodile, called Gangaram, had died. Over 100 yrs old, 3-metre long reptile buried after his last rites performed by villagers https://t.co/1ZvKPeDF7k pic.twitter.com/RKyAD5iLyi— Native Narratives (@indianarratives) January 10, 2019
No less than 500 people attended the reptile’s funeral — this, at a time when we are beginning to hear stories of shocking atrocities against animals with increasing regularity.
According to a Hindustan Times report, a post-mortem was conducted in the presence of the villagers, after which the body was handed over to them. The villagers, who had a deep bond with Gangaram, carried the body of the crocodile on a truck which they decorated with flowers and garlands.
And deep love.
It wasn’t just the residents of Bawamohatra who came to pay their last respects to Gangaram either. People from several nearby villages poured in as well.
So why was Gangaram — a crocodile, which is feared, loathed and violently assailed most of the time — so loved?
Because Gangaram broke the 'vicious crocodile' mould. And his village broke the 'vicious human' one.
Bawamohatra had come to enjoy a unique identity, in fact, called the ‘Magarmachha-vala gaon’ far and wide because of the reptile’s peaceful presence in the village pond.
Villagers mourn death of Gangaram the crocodile ???? aged around 130 years in a village in Chhattisgarh,more than 500 people attend his last rites..Humanity still exist. pic.twitter.com/YkHkA6XE4t— Dilawar Khan (@khan_dilawar89) January 11, 2019
So adjusting was Gangaram that he would reportedly move to a side of the pond when he saw people coming to take a bath.
“Even the kids of the village could swim around him and Gangaram had never harmed or attacked anyone. Gangaram was not a crocodile but a friend and a divine creature for us who was worshipped in this village,” HT quoted a villager, Basawan, as saying. In return, it is said the villagers fed Gangaram who therefore had no need to hunt.
The teary-eyed villagers of Bawamohatra have buried Gangaram near the same pond where the animal had lived. For 130 long, rich years. A lifetime spent, unusually filled with love.
The incident has come to revive people’s faith in humanity at a time when incidents of human-animal conflict are on the rise and appalling cruelty seems to prevail.
Perhaps there are more Gangarams out there, waiting to be discovered. And to be loved.
Waiting for us to rediscover the human being inside us.