Indian Hindus, Muslims find miracles, but some sceptical

NEW DELHI, Aug 24, 2006 (AFP) – Barbara Rao, an American software designer of Indian descent, relies on reason in her job, but, like tens of thousands of other Hindus, is now seeking answers of a different nature. “Hey man, this is faith,” said the Santa Fe resident, as she offered milk to a statue of the deity Lord Shiva — the ‘destroyer’ — at a temple in New Delhi.

Rao is one of tens of thousands who have thronged temples across India this week following weekend reports that gods and goddesses were “drinking” proffered milk — a phenomenon seen as a miracle by the country’s Hindus.

People believe giving offerings “will appease their gods,” Hindu priest Rishikesh Bhargav said this week as people continued to try to tempt the deities with milk.

The so-called milk “miracle” first surfaced in 1995 when temples in India, Britain and Canada were jammed by believers who asserted that the portly god of good fortune, Lord Ganesha, had switched to milk from his preferred candy.

Belief and worship hold an important place in the lives of most Indians, irrespective of their caste and economic status, and parts of the country are often swept by religious frenzies.

But the Indian Rationalist Association –