It was an occasion with a difference when over 3,000 people gathered to attend the 'tehraveen' (13-day post death ritual) of 'Babuji' in the Kurdi village in Saharanpur.
The ritual was held on Saturday and the one 'difference' was that 'Babuji' was not a village elder -- it was actually a bull who had passed away on August 15.
The entire village had pooled in money to cover costs of the rituals, including the grand feast for 3,000 attendees on Saturday. Some tech-savvy youths in the village, photoshopped a picture of Babuji, cropping out local residents and adding on flowers and currency notes.
This photograph was prominently displayed at the 'tehraveen' venue. Several other religious ceremonies were also conducted by priests, including cremation, rasam pagdi and tehraveen for the bull.
Incidentally, villagers refused to call Babuji an animal. "He was a gift from the divine. We often found him roaming in Bhumia Kheda, a holy site in the village, when he was very young. Many called him Nandi (sacred bull of God Shiva). His presence brought much cheer to our lives. We hope he is at peace now," said a local resident.
Naresh Pandit, a priest who performed the puja, said it was meant to bring peace and a sense of closure for the residents who greatly missed Babuji's presence on the streets.
People were actually sobbing during the rituals which speaks volumes for the kind of affection that the animal had earned," said the priest. Babuji was not owned by any villager in particular but he was fed and looked after by all residents collectively.
"He died due to age-related ailments. He was 20 years old. The children, in particular, were very fond of him. For the village, he was our blessing," said Raju Tyagi, a local resident.