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Indian Crocodile

Scientific NameCrocodylus palustris
Common NameIndian Crocodile, Muggermach (Hindi), Mudhalai (Tamil), Makara (Sanskrit)
DistributionThroughout India
Conservation StatusVulnerable (VU)

In religion and mythology

Crocodile worship is practiced in some parts of Goa. Every year on the day of the new moon in January a ceremony called the ‘Mannge Thapnee’ is performed. People construct a crocodile from silt, shells are placed as eyes and scales and sticks for teeth. The crocodile is then adorned with flowers and vermillion. A live chick is offered as a sacrifice and placed in a depression. The crocodile is believed to be a guardian deity or protector.

(Source: Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter, Vol.14, No.1, January – March, 1995.)

In ancient Hindu scriptures, makara refers to a mythical sea-creature that somewhat resembles a crocodile. It is often depicted as the vahana of Goddess Ganga, who represent the river Ganges, and Lord Varuna, God of wind. It is also the vahana of the river Goddess Narmada. The reptile is also sometimes associated with Kamadeva, the Hindu God of love.

The crocodile also features in the famous ‘Gajendra-moksha’ legend, featured in Shrimad Bhagwatham. A crocodile once caught hold of the foot of Gajendra, the chief of the elephants. Unable to get his foot released from the tight grip of the crocodile, Gajendra prayed to Lord Vishnu. The Lord immediately rescued him from the jaws of the crocodile.

Goddess Ganga

Gajendra Moksha

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