Two women died and 11 others, including two children, have been hospitalized after they allegedly consumed ‘kesari bath’ that had been distributed as ‘prasada’ at a temple in Chintamani town in Chickballapur district on Friday night.
This is the second incident in a little over a month where the consumption of temple offerings has taken a tragic turn. In December 2018, 17 people died after they consumed ‘prasad’ that had been deliberately poisoned in Chamarajanagar.
Police suspect that the ‘prasada’ had been prepared using “expired ingredients”.
The Ganga Bhavani Devi temple, popularly known as Gangamma temple, in Chintamani town had held a puja on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. “There was a gathering of over 1,000 devotees,” said a senior police officer.
Among the people who attended it was the deceased woman, identified as Kavitha. Six of the victims were members of one family.
They had the ‘prasad’ after one of them brought it home. Among those hospitalized are Ganavi, 7, and Charini, 5, Raju, Venkataramappa, and other relatives, as well as a family who lived in their village.
The ‘kesari bath’ was distributed to around 500 visitors. Kavitha had taken a large portion of the ‘prasad’ to the village. “She shared it with her neighbours and another friend. However, soon after they ate it, they began throwing up and started experiencing abdominal pain and discomfort,” said the police.
They were taken to hospitals in Chintamani and Kolar, but then Kavitha’s condition worsened. “She was so dehydrated that she stopped responding to treatment in the morning and was declared dead on Saturday,” the police said, quoting the doctors.
One of Kavitha’s neighbours, identified as Saraswathamma, also died.
“The priests informed us that the ‘kesari bath’ was not prepared on the temple premises, but was brought by some devotees,” a senior police officer said.
One of the women being questioned is a local resident, Lakshmi, who had taken a vow at the temple to prepare the ‘prasada’ and distribute it to visitors as part of a ritual. According to the police, she borrowed some vessels from her neighbours as she had to prepare a large quantity of Kesari bath, and had entrusted the distribution of it to another woman, Amarathy, who is also being questioned.
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