Monthly Archives: November 2010

A village where Crocodile is the King !

Ghana, located in West Africa, is an interesting country in many aspects. It was here that the Europeans first came to trade in gold and slaves. Since then the country had a long and eventful relationship with the Western world. But that’s not what makes Ghana something special nowadays. It is a remote village, in northern Ghana, called ‘Paga’ – a peculiar place that appears to defy the laws of nature and, the laws of fear too!

Most of the outside world is unaware of the special but strange relationship that exists here between humans and crocodiles – animals that anyone would run away from. But the people of Paga swim joyfully and wash clothes in the same village pond, which about 100+ crocodiles use as their home-cum-dining room !!!

No one seems to know how long the crocodiles have lived in the pond, or how they got to this landlocked area. But the village folk swear that no one from their village has ever been harmed by the crocodiles — a fact that may sound unbelievable; as generally crocodiles are known to be notoriously nasty if anyone gets in their way.

Whatever it is… for the people of Paga, these crocodiles are sacred, kingly ones and consider the animals as the souls of their relatives. On the other hand, the crocodiles too don’t feel threatened by humans.

Here, natives fish knee-deep next to what may look like logs, even though these “logs” have very sharp teeth.

As visitors began to flock to this fascinating spot, the village’s crocodile handlers trained around a dozen of crocodiles making them accustomed to a diet of ‘live’ chickens.

The chickens are paid by tourists who come from around the world to sit on the crocodiles’ backs, pet them and wag their tails…….. things that no one will dare to try anywhere else ! Paga’s crocodiles also won’t mind these ‘shows of affection’ as they are happy with the live-diet.

Normally, sacrificing these chickens seem to be cruel, but Paga’s folk think otherwise as this routine keeps the crocodiles off from killing the village’s other pets, entering homes ‘looking for food’ ….. More than that, the money thus raised from hundreds of tourists helped to support the village day care center. Substantially the land’s conditions started improving !

So, the show goes on every day, or at least when visitors drop by… the villagers swim in peace… the tourists are thrilled… the crocodiles are quite content with the arrangement…  all is well. Perhaps the only unhappy lot will be the chickens.

A tale of bravery & sacrifice, the Hill of Crosses

A site that illustrates a country’s struggles in a nutshell… that’s the Hill of Crosses – the hallmark of Lithuania’s legacy.

Hill of Crosses

Situated in northern Lithuania, this hill is pilgrimage site with an exciting past. Formerly a hill fort, the crosses first appeared here way back in the 14th century. With the passage of time; not only crosses, but giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims.

Hill of Crosses

The real reason for the Hill’s existence lies buried in Lithuania’s history. Over the centuries, the place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it has faced throughout history. Invaded by Russia during the 1795 partition of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth Lithuania disappeared altogether from the map of Europe. When the old political structure of Eastern Europe fell apart in 1918, Lithuania once again declared its independence. Throughout this time, the Hill of Crosses was used as a place for Lithuanians to pray for peace, for their country, and for the loved ones they had lost.

Hill of Crosses

Most recently, the site took on a special significance during the years 1944-1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the USSR. Continuing to travel to the Hill and leave their tributes, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. Although the Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses, and bulldozed the site at least three times, the new crosses continued to appear and by 1985 the authorities had given up.

Hill of Crosses

After the eventful early 90’s which saw Lithuania’s declaration of independence and the fall of Soviet Union, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses in 1993, declaring it a place for hope, peace, love and sacrifice.

Hill of Crosses
…….. in the end it is “peace” that prevails.