In a bizarre incident, a funeral and memorial service were planned for a crocodile, which was worshipped by villagers living in Bemetara district, in the western Indian state of Chattisgarh.  

The 12-foot long crocodile was found dead Tuesday in the village pond, following which locals informed the forest department and the carcass taken out of the water. According to reports, the crocodile was 130 years old and residents of the village believed it to be their protector.

The residents of Bawa Mohtara village fondly named the reptile "Gangaram" and were in a state of shock after learning about its death. 

An autopsy was conducted and it was determined that the reptile died of natural causes, a forest official told the Press Trust of India.

"After the autopsy, the carcass was handed over to villagers as they wanted to perform final rites for the reptile," R K Sinha added. The villagers were reportedly grief-stricken and decided not to cook food for a day in memory of the crocodile. They also carried out a funeral procession and decided to set up a memorial on the pond's bank where it was buried.

They are also allegedly considering constructing a temple in its memory.

Around 500 villagers participated in the funeral procession and touched the carcass to seek its blessings.

The forest official said the crocodile lived in the village's main pond for over 100 years. The villagers, including children, used to bathe every day in the pond but the reptile never harmed them. Sinha said that the incident sets an example of "human-animal coexistence."

"In the past, the crocodile had crawled over to some nearby villages, a couple of times and we had to bring it back to the pond," a village official said.