The rare turtle found it's way into a temple in Kendrapara, A coastal district in East India, and it has been kept there ever since. Villagers are claiming that it is an incarnation of God, and that they will not release the reptile. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of worshipers are traveling from surrounding villages to the temple, chanting and bearing gifts of fruit, rice and garlands.
Local authorities have, so far, failed to persuade the worshipers to give up the rare sea turtle, while the crowds continue to grow to an unmanageable size.
P.K. Behera, a senior government wildlife official stated, “We have asked the villagers to hand it over as it is illegal to confine a turtle, but they are refusing.”.
As it is a protected species in India, anyone found keeping a turtle of this sort without permission can be arrested and jailed for over a year and/or fined. But as yet the villagers have refused to release the turtle. Convinced that the turtle bears holy symbols on its shell, and is an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Lord Jagannath.
Ramesh Mishra, a priest of the temple, said of their refusal to give up the reptile: “Lord Jagannath has visited our village in the form of a turtle. We will not allow anybody to take the turtle away.”
I once had a turtle, when I was a child. We found it wandering aimlessly through the California desert and took it home. I loved that turtle. One day someone left the fence open in the yard and it left.