Hindu Gods are Drinking Milk, Again
August 21, 2006
Is Lord Ganesh Feeling Thirsty Again?
Eleven years after idols of Hindu Gods all over the world started drinking milk offered by their devotees, the Gods are back at it again.
News reports suggest that idols of various Hindu Gods from across India have started feeling thirsty again.
Statues of Hindu Gods in Kolkata, Lucknow, Bareilly, Kanpur, Allahabad, Kurukshetra, Ludhiana, Mathura, Vadodara and elsewhere are satiating their thirst for milk with help from eager devotees.
It's not just the Elephant-headed God Ganesh whose throat is parched. Reports say that even Shiva, Durga and Krishna, - favorites of millions of Hindus across the length and breadth of the country - have started consuming milk offered by the
hands of ardent devotees.
Those with long memories will remember that in September 1995 reports of idols of Hindu gods across India, North America and Europe drinking milk sent devotees rushing to their temples in a frenzy of giddy euphoria.
What explains this extraordinary feeding frenzy that seems to go against all rational, scientific principles?
Were the Hindu Gods just feeling the effects of calcium deficiency that supposedly afflicts those who don't drink milk or are there deeper forces at play?
An impressionistic look at the phenomenon suggests multiple forces at play here - ignorance, blind faith and rapid cultural changes.
Sixty years after Independence from British rule, several hundred million Indians are illiterate, which means they cannot read and write, and therefore usually poor and appallingly ignorant.
Illiteracy is particularly high in North India, where this milk-drinking phenomenon is widespread. Sadly, the Indian state seems to be paying greater attention to higher education - starting more IITs, for instance - than to basic education for the masses.
When you add blind faith of some people to appalling levels of ignorance, it's easier to understand why a phenomena like idols of Gods drinking milk keep cropping up.
Indian society is going through considerable change. Old values are being swept away by the new and increasingly money is the only currency. In these times of tremendous cultural churn, even educated people - let alone the ignorant - become vulnerable and sometimes seek refuge in odd phenomenon such as statues of Gods drinking milk.
Meanwhile, scientists have a simple explanation for the milk-drinking phenomenon of the statues. They say that any stone idol absorbs liquid through a phenomenon called surface tension. Apparently, molecules of milk are pulled from the spoons of devotees by the texture of the statues.
But don't provide this explanation to the devotees thronging the Hindu temples. They are bound to laugh at you. Their faith and ignorance is stronger than yours.
After all, just days before the statues of Hindu Gods started sipping milk, thousands of people in India's financial capital Mumbai began to drink from a dirty Arabian Sea creek believing it had turned sweet and could cure their ailments. The real explanation for the sweetness of the sea water is that the water may have temporarily lost its salinity due to pollution and inflow of fresh water from a close source.