4,000 attend funeral of mystic monkey
ABOUT 4,000 devotees yesterday attended the funeral in southern India of a monkey they believed to be the incarnation of a Hindu god.
The animal strayed several weeks ago into a temple dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman in Timmaganipalli village, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Villagers refused to release it and hundreds visited each day, seeking its blessing and garlanding it with flowers.
Animal rights activists said the monkey, which collapsed on Saturday, died of starvation and exhaustion.
One said: "It clearly needed help and we wanted to move it to a veterinary hospital, but the villagers refused to co-operate."
When the villagers discovered the monkey sitting on Hanuman's idol they thought it was a reincarnation of the ancient god and refused to let it out of the temple.
"The monkey was old and both its hind legs were paralysed," said a local animal rights activist, Narendra Reddy.
Hindu religious sentiment associates all monkeys with Hanuman. India is dotted with tens of thousands of Hanuman temples, and every Tuesday is reserved for his worship.
Anyone trying to catch monkeys is beaten up or chased away.
"We tried regulating the number of people into the temple to ensure proper rest for the monkey, but it had created such a sensation that around 300 to 400 people would come to visit it every day," a police superintendent said.
(Daily Telegraph, London)