Legend has it that, Babiya is a local guardian of the temple. Babiya only eats the temple prasad which is made of rice and jaggery and does not ʜᴀʀᴍ anyone, including the fish in the lake. The crocodile is believed to be vegetarian and is guarding the temple for more than 60 years! A trustee of the temple has said that Babiya is a total vegetarian and is fed daily after the noon worship conducted at the temple, it is given the prasads offered by the devotees and they feed her like an elephant by putting the prasad in its mouth.
Another legend narrates a different story about Babiya’s existence. Once Sree Vilvamangalathu Swami, devotee of Lord Vishnu, was doing penance for his favourite lord. While he was in his prayers, Lord Krishna in the form of a little boy appeared and started irritating him. Being annoyed by the behaviour of the child, the saint pusʜᴇᴅ Krishna aside. The boy immediately disappeared into a nearby cave and then the truth was dawned on the saint. The crevice into which Krishna is said to have disappeared still exists in the temple. The crocodile quietly guards the entrance and the shrine.
Another story suggests that in 1945, a British soldier sʜᴏᴛ ᴅᴇᴀᴅ the crocodile. Later, the soldier ᴅɪᴇd within few days with snakeʙɪᴛᴇ. People believed that it was a curse of serpent god Anantha. However, later another crocodile appeared in the lake. It is said that, if one crocodile ᴅɪᴇs, then another one appears in the lake.
Unlike other animals of the species, Babiya does not eat meat or even the fish living in the temple pond. Rather, it lives on the prasad of boiled rice and jaggery given by the temple priest and devotees.
Reportedly, some locals also believe that some circus officials might have left behind crocodile hatchlings in the temple pond in the past. None of them had survived, except Babiya, which despite being a mugger crocodile, never fed on meat but only vegetarian offerings.
So much so, if you get to catch a sight of Babiya during a visit to Lord Ananthapura Temple, consider yourself lucky as this croc is believed to be a harbinger of blessings.