Ganesha drinking milk miracle

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A statue of Ganesha

The Ganesha drinking milk miracle was a phenomenon which occurred on 21 September 1995, in which statues of the Hindu deity Ganesha were thought to be drinking milk offerings.[1][2]

The news spread very quickly in various Indian and American cities, as Indians everywhere tried to "feed" idols of Ganesha with milk and spread the news through telephones and word of mouth, attracting significant attention in the Indian media.[3] Scientists have described the incident as occurring through capillary action.[4]


Before dawn on 20 September 1995, a worshipper at a temple in southern New Delhi made an offering of milk to a statue of Ganesha. When a spoonful of milk from the bowl was held up to the trunk of the statue, the liquid appeared to disappear, apparently taken in by the idol. Word of the event spread quickly, and by mid-morning it was claimed that statues of the entire Hindu pantheon in temples all over India were taking in milk.[1]

By noon the news had spread beyond India, and Hindu temples in the United Kingdom, Canada, the UAE, and Nepal, among other countries had allegedly replicated the phenomenon, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (an Indian Hindu nationalist organisation which provides social services to Hindus in India and across the world) announced that a miracle was occurring.

The reported miracle had a significant effect on the areas around major temples; vehicle and pedestrian traffic in New Delhi was dense enough to create a gridlock lasting until late in the evening. Many stores in areas with significant Hindu communities saw a massive jump in sales of milk, leading to an increase in overall milk sales in New Delhi by over 30%.[5] Many minor temples struggled to deal with the vast increase in numbers, and queues spilled out into the streets, reaching distances of over a mile.


Many statues were reported to not be cooperative. At the famous South Mumbai Ganapati temple [which?] the statues were described as not drinking milk. The bulls and bears at the Delhi Stock Exchange tried to feed milk to a Ganesh statue to no avail. The idol at the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg shrine was claimed to drink fruit and sugarcane juice as easily as milk. The popular Siddhivinayak temple decided to close its gates after the statue allegedly stopped drinking milk at about 12:30 noon. The sadhus of these temples blamed local nastiks (disbelievers) for the idols not drinking milk.[6]

The claims were not limited to Ganesh statues. A week later on 27 September, The Statesman reported that a statue of the Virgin Mary in Singapore had also accepted milk. A 28 September report from Mumbai in the Indian Express said some people had protested when locals offered alcohol to a Gandhi statue, which it had quickly sipped. Bahujan Samaj Party workers in Uttar Pradesh's Basti district began trying to feed milk to statues of Ambedkar and Buddha.[6]

Seeking to explain the claims, Ross McDowall led a team of scientists from India's Ministry of Science and Technology, travelled to a temple in New Delhi and made an offering of milk containing a food colouring. As the level of liquid in the spoon dropped, the scientists hypothesized that after the milk disappeared from the spoon, it coated the statue beneath where the spoon was placed. With this result, the scientists offered capillary action as an explanation; the surface tension of the milk was pulling the liquid up and out of the spoon, before gravity caused it to run down the front of the statue.[1]

Sitaram Kesri, labor minister in the Narasimha Rao government, quoted internal reports to say that a temple in Jhandewalan Park near the RSS headquarters in Delhi was the epicentre of the miracle. He said it was a ploy by the Hindu nationalist BJP to gain votes in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections by spreading false rumours. The phenomenon reportedly spread by an organized barrage of late-night telephone calls to Hindu temples all over India and the world, telling them to feed their statues milk.[6][7]

Reports of milk drinking tapered off after 21 September, though a few incidents were still reported.[6] A small number of temples outside of India reported the effect continuing for several more days, but no further reports were made after the beginning of October. The story was picked up, mostly as a novelty piece, by news services around the world, including CNN, the BBC, the New York Times and the Guardian.[citation needed]

Similar incidents[edit]

The “miracle” occurred again on 20–21 August 2006 in almost exactly the same fashion, although initial reports seem to indicate that it occurred only with statues of Ganesh, Shiva, and Durga. The first reported occurrence was on the evening of the 20th in the city of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, from where it quickly spread throughout India, but this time was not believed by many.[8] However, the incident was again attributed to capillary action by scientists.[9] The phenomenon had appeared only days after reports of sea water turning sweet that led to mass hysteria in Mumbai.[10]

In 1995, the phenomenon also occurred in Trinidad and Tobago; milk was accepted by both murtis and religious pictures. The phenomenon occurred in Hindu temples as well as at the homes of Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad Express newspaper reported on 22 September 2010 that murtis of Ganesh "drank" or accepted milk at the Om Shanti Mandir, Cunjal Road, Princes Town, Trinidad and Tobago on 21 September 2010 on the occasion of the holy period of Ganesh Utsav.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b c Suzanne Goldenberg, "India's gods milk their faithful in a brief 'miracle'", The Guardian, 22 September 1995.
  2. ^ McGirk, Tim (22 September 1995). "Hindu world divided by a 24-hour wonder". Independent. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Idols 'drinking' milk is pure science". The Indian Express. 21 August 2006. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  4. ^ Burns, John F. (10 October 1995). "India's 'Guru Busters' Debunk All That's Mystical". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  5. ^ Tim McGirk, "India's thirsty statues drink the nation dry", The Independent, 22 September 1995
  6. ^ a b c d "How the Sangh Parivar Organised the 1995 Ganesh Milk Miracle and Why the Plan Flopped". The Wire. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Milk". Fifty Two (52). Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  8. ^ Shaveta Bansal, "Devotees Throng Temples To See Hindu Deities Drinking Milk" Archived 6 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine, All Headline News, 21 August 2006
  9. ^ "Milk-drinking gods just plain science", Press Trust of India, 21 August 2006
  10. ^ Jayaraman, T. "Obscurantism vs Science – behind the milk drinking miracle". The Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  11. ^ Ariti Jankie (22 September 2010). "Ganesh murtis 'drink' milk". Trinidad Express.
  12. ^ Allen Richardson, E. (13 November 2018). Hindu Gods in an American Landscape: Changing Perceptions of Indian Sacred Images in the Global Age. ISBN 9780786499441.

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