Kendrapada (Orissa), Nov. 10 (ANI): A fresh water turtle is being worshipped in Orissa's Kendrapada district, as it reportedly has features resembling to Lord Jagannath.
Residents of Khadipal village are chanting hymns, carrying garlands and fruit to offer prayers and seek blessings from the turtle.
According to them, the turtle has some celestial marks on its body, which resemble the eyes, nose and mouth of Lord Jagannath.
It is also said to have images of the Shankha (divine conch shell), lotus flower and wooden sandals.
"We saw a turtle crawling on the lane, so, the villagers suggested that it should be kept in a well for safety reasons. But when we washed the turtle, we found some divine images of eyes, divine conch shell, lotus flower and wooden sandals which attributed to Lord Jagannath; and since then we are worshipping this turtle," a village priest said.
The turtle is protected species in India and anyone found keeping one without permission could be jailed for a year or more.
Adamant villagers, however, have refused to give up turtle saying it bears holy symbols on its back and is an incarnation of Lord Jagannath.
"The turtle has images of divine conch, lotus flower. But it won't be visible to anyone unless and until they are washed with water or milk. Another thing that we have come across is that they are a family of five, which too resembles that of lord Jagannath, i.e. lord Jagannath, goddess Subhadra (sister of lord Jagannath), lord Balabhadra (brother of lord Jagannath) and Sudarshan and goddess Lakshmi," said a village priest.
The coastal Kendrapada district boasts of having world's largest rookeries of sea turtle, which includes the Olive Ridley sea turtle. (ANI)