2466) New Wave Of Religious Insanity Sweeps Across India (Aug 21) - According to Topix.net and the Associated Press, “Hundreds of thousands of Indians thronged temples across India on Monday in the belief that statues of Hindu gods were drinking milk.
“‘I put a milk-filled spoon to Ganesha's mouth and he drank it,’ exclaimed Akhilesh Shukla, a trader in Lucknow, capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“He was among the countless devotees who carried milk in glasses and pitchers to northern Indian temples where Hindus worship Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of good fortune and wisdom; Shiva, the destroyer, and Durga, the goddess of strength.
“‘It is a miracle,’ said Sudhir Mishra, a priest at a Shiva temple in Lucknow. He said that at least 10 liters of milk had been offered at his temple on Monday.
“‘Look at the floor it is fairly dry. Where's the milk gone? It should be visible on floor. Can you see that.’
[According to Yahoo News and the AFP news agency’s version of this story, “‘Even Shiv's lingam (revered phallus) drank milk. I feel blessed by the god,’ said visitor Rukmani Devi.”]
“But others dismissed the milk-slurping gods as the work of less miraculous forces - surface tension, which pulls the liquid toward the statues, and capillary action, through which the milk is leached into the statues by tiny pores on the surface of the stone.
“‘Milk disappears the same way water reaches the top of a tree through roots,’ said A. K. Sharma, a professor at Lucknow University.
“Indian folklore is replete with tales of miracles, and sociologists said the frenzy over the latest such incident should be viewed through sharp contrasts in education among India's billion-plus people.
“‘Many people in India straddle two different worlds - one world of scientific education and high-tech jobs versus another steeped in their centuries-old beliefs in supernatural phenomena. And they see no contradiction in this,’ said Abhilasha Kumari, a sociologist at Jamia Milia Islamia university in New Delhi.
“The drinking gods craze came after thousands of Muslims flocked to a bay in Bombay late Friday and early Saturday to drink ‘sweet water’ - ordinarily brackish water that was noticeably less salty than usual.
“Scientists said recent heavy rains had lowered the salinity of the water, and officials urged people not to drink from Mahim Bay where the water is reportedly contaminated by raw sewage and industrial waste. Nearly two days later, on Sunday evening, milk was offered to a statue in the town of Bareilly, also in Uttar Pradesh, and the idol absorbed the liquid.
“As the word spread through television reports, crowds swarmed temples in dozens of cities, just as millions did during a similar episode in 1995, when authorities were forced to deploy extra police to control crowds. Some parts of the country also faced a milk shortage.
“At that time, a group of scientists visited a temple in New Delhi and fed a statue milk tinted with dye. The milk was quickly absorbed by the idol, and soon permeated the stone, leaving the statue coated by a colored, milky film.”
According to an Aug 26 bulletin from Sanal Edamaruku and his Rationalist International organization, “India is facing a series of mass ‘miracles’ these days. One by one, they are breaking out like epidemics, throwing changing segments of the population into frenzy. Sanal Edamaruku is leading the greatest rationalist counter campaign that has ever been fought, cutting the heads of the hydra as they appear. The battleground is the Indian television scene, especially the Hindi language channels, where ‘miracles’ are bombing in as ‘breaking news’ from all over the country.
“What is happening? It started 18th August Friday night at Mahim near Mumbai. Young Muslims, after the Friday prayers visiting the Mahim Dargah, burial place of a Muslim saint at the seaside, discovered that the water in the Mahim Creek had turned sweet. The news spread like wild fire and within hours hundreds, soon thousands, of gullible came to see Allah's great miracle. They jumped into the allegedly sweet sea water and started drinking it! A dangerous situation emerged as the water in the Mahim Creek is among India's filthiest and most contaminated waters. 1000 million liters of sewage are flowing every day into the creek and the water is absolutely not potable. But people gulped it in hysterically, fed it even to little babies.
“In the night itself, at 1.30 a.m., Sanal Edamaruku started a non-stop television campaign for reason. He warned people from drinking the dirty water, called upon the authorities to stop the access to the creek, explained the reasons for the change of taste (which occurs during every Monsoon) scientifically. At noon, the tide started to turn. By evening, the hysteric crowds had melted down to a small group of fanatics. The ‘miracle’ that may have caused longtime health damage to thousands of people, was over.
“But the next day, the Hindu temples in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi celebrated their own miracle. The statues of the Hindu gods started drinking milk again as they did in 1995! When the new milk miracle subsided under the weight of Sanal Edamaruku's explanations and demonstrations in the TV channels, it was the turn of the Christian miracle mongers. Virgin Mary started shedding tears in a church in Cochin, Kerala. Soon, the image of the Hindu saint Shirdi Sai Baba (not the curly haired god-man!) appeared in the seepage spots of a multi-storied building wall in Surat (Gujarat). Last night, an olive tree in a monastery in Madhya Pradesh started flowering and two young girls got possessed in Uttar Pradesh.
“In permanent action, Sanal Edamaruku has been debunking the various paranormal claims blow by blow during day and night in more than forty special television programs this week, most of them live, many repeated several times. There may not be many among the millions of TV watchers, who did not see him several times explaining, demonstrating, warning and encouraging to overcome all transcendental temptations.
“So far, we have not been able to keep track with the running TV events and inform our readers in time. Today we can announce a major TV discussion with Sanal Edamaruku about the new miracle wave in India. (Also India's two leading astrologers and a scientist participate in the discussion).”