Devotees flock to worship 'miracle' trees in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - After an idol that "sweats" and a stone that "grows", it is the turn of "miracle" trees in western Nepal to be worshipped by flocking devotees.

Thousands of ardent believers have been thronging Vyas town in Tanahun district in western Nepal to marvel at and worship three trees that are said to be gushing water, according to the local media.

The phenomenon is said to have begun in May after a woman worshipped the three trees. When news of the miracle spread, people started coming from the capital as well as southern districts to offer prayers before the three trees.

However, to the chagrin of the locals, last month, a group of Buddhist lamas and shamans went to the spot and did a counter-worship that reportedly resulted in the trees becoming normal again.

Things reportedly changed dramatically Saturday when a local woman offered worship to counter the lamas' magic and the trees began spouting water again.

Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world with a low literacy rate and virtually no healthcare facilities in the remote villages, is also one of the strongest believers in magic and miracles.

About two years ago, a Nepali teen hit the headlines for reportedly sitting in meditation without drinking water or taking food for several months.

Since then, there have been other prodigies like a school girl said to be emitting glass from her head, and a prophet believed to cure illnesses by touching sufferers with a trident, whose prophecies about Doomsday smiting Nepal last week proved to be false.

Mass hysteria is one of the most common maladies stalking classrooms with hundreds of students from different schools falling unconscious and displaying hysterical behaviour.

Nepal, that has the largest number of religious festivals in the world and public holidays, still enjoys a state holiday during eclipses.

Some of the religious beliefs are still taken in earnest by the new government though it has on board the Maoist guerrillas, who do not believe in religion.

A stone idol in northern Dolakha temple is believed to sweat when a crisis is at hand. It is believed to have sweated during earthquakes in the past and the massacre of the royal family in 2001.

When the idol of Bhimsen "sweats", traditionally, priests wipe off the holy water with cotton wool and send the balls to the appropriate authorities.

Earlier, they were sent to the palace, whose royal residents rank among the most superstitious, never taking any important decision without consulting astrologers.

But this year, with King Gyanendra in disgrace for trying to seize absolute power, the cotton wool was sent to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, to do the needful, which included offering worship for atonement.