It Happened in Homes & Temples Alike
What was so special about the unprecedented incident was that even curious non-believers rubbed shoulders with believers and even fanatics standing in long queues outside the temples. Most of them returned with a sense of awe and reverence - a firm belief that, after all, there may be something called God up there!
People returning home from work would switch on their television sets to learn about the miracle and try it out at home. What was happening in temples was true even at home. Soon every temple and Hindu household around the world was trying to feed milk to Ganesha - spoon by spoon. And Ganesha scooped them up - drop after drop.
How It All Began
To give you a background, Hinduism Today magazine published from the United States reported: "It all began on September 21st when an otherwise ordinary man in New Delhi dreamt that Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Wisdom, craved a little milk. Upon awakening, he rushed in the dark before dawn to the nearest temple, where a skeptical priest allowed him to proffer a spoonful of milk to the small stone image. Both watched in astonishment as it disappeared, magically consumed by the God. What followed is unprecedented in modern Hindu history."
Scientists Had No Convincing Explanation
Scientists were quick to attribute the vanishing of millions of spoonfuls of milk from under Ganesha's inanimate trunk to such natural scientific phenomenon as surface tension or physical laws as capillary action, adhesion or cohesion. But they could not explain why such a thing never happened ever before and why it stopped abruptly within 24 hours. They soon realized that this was in fact something beyond the realm of science as they knew it. It was indeed the paranormal phenomenon of the past millennium, the "best documented paranormal phenomenon of modern times," and "unprecedented in modern Hindu history," as people now call it.
A Mammoth Revival of Faith
Various such small incidents were reported from different corners of the world at different times (November 2003, Botswana; August 2006, Bareilly, and so on), but it was never such a wide-spread phenomenon that presented itself on that auspicious day of 1995. Hinduism Today Magazine wrote: "This "milk miracle" may go down in history as the most important event shared by Hindus this century, if not in the last millennium. It has brought about an instantaneous religious revival among nearly one billion people. No other religion has ever done that before! It is as if every Hindu who had, say "ten pounds of devotion," suddenly has twenty." Scientist and broadcaster Gyan Rajhans recounts the 'Milk Miracle' incident on his blog as "the most important event regarding idol-worship in the 20th century ... "
The Media Confirmed the 'Miracle'
India's secular press and the state-run broadcast media were bamboozled if such a thing should merit a place in their news release. But soon they themselves were convinced that it was in fact true and so, newsworthy from every angle. "Never before in history has a simultaneous miracle occurred on such a global scale. Television stations (among them the CNN and BBC), radio and newspapers (among them The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Express) eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even skeptical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the statues of gods - and watched as the milk disappeared," wrote Philip Mikas on his website milkmiracle.com specially dedicated to the unworldly incident.
The Manchester Guardian noted, "The media coverage was extensive, and although scientists and "experts" created theories of "capillary absorption" and "mass hysteria" the overwhelming evidence and conclusion was that an unexplainable miracle had occurred… While the media and scientists still struggle to find an explanation for these events, many believe they are a sign that a great teacher has been born."
How the News Spread
I can't imagine anyone of that generation who had not heard about or was not amazed by the milk miracle incident. I don't remember if a short supply of milk was reported, but as a student of communications, I found that the ease and speed with which the news spread in a not-so-connected world, was nothing short of a miracle in itself. It was long before people in small-town India ever heard of the Internet or e-mail, years before mobile phones and FM radios became popular, and a decade before social media was invented. It was 'viral-marketing' at its best that didn't rely on Google, Facebook or Twitter. After all Ganesha - the lord of success and remover of obstacles was behind it!