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"Monkey God" mourned
9/2/2002 12:45:00 PM

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HYDERABAD, India -- Hundreds of people attended the funeral of a monkey in Anantapur district on Sunday. It was revered as a divine incarnation of a Hindu god in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Animal rights campaigners say the monkey died of starvation and exhaustion after being trapped in a temple for a month by over-zealous worshippers.

One animal rights activist said his group's efforts to save the monkey had failed because of the blind faith of the people.

The monkey, which was found perched on top of an idol of Hanuman a month ago, attracted hundreds of devotees every day from surrounding villages, as well as from the neighboring state of Karnataka.

Devotees showered the monkey with fruit and flowers and worshipped it around the clock. Animal rights campaigners complained that the animal was being mistreated and filed a petition in the state's High Court, saying the monkey had been forcibly confined in the temple.

The group also alleged that people's religious feelings were being exploited to make money.

The court then ordered the local administration to rescue the monkey - but villagers prevented officials from taking him for treatment in time. The monkey died a day after the group tried to move the animal out of the temple.

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