Evil spirits in the pond

by Samia Tamrin Ahmed

Beweg dich. Ein Heft über Sport (Ausgabe I/2014)


A black soft-shelled turtle, also known as the bostami turtle. Photo: Kundu & Kulendra Ch Das/Assam Univ. & Mizoram Univ./India

In Bangladesh, you may be taken to a water basin and asked to feed 300 turtles with bananas or chapati bread. The largest living population of the extremely rare black soft-shelled turtle is kept in an artificial pond. It belongs to the temple of St. Bayazid Bostami, a Sufi, who is said to have come from Iran to Bangladesh in the 9th century, which is why the animals are also called "bostami turtles" or "mazari", which means something along the lines of "temple inhabitants". They can grow up to one meter in size and are olive green or brownish black. Originally they lived in the Brahmaputra River, which has its source in the Himalayas.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as an extinct species, but recently some wild specimens have been sighted in Assam, India. Legend has it that the black soft-shelled turtle are descendants of evil spirits that once infuriated the holy Bostami. In response, he transformed them and condemned them to an eternity in the pool. The guardians of the temple are devoted to the population of turtles. No one is allowed to harm or take an animal, not even for scientific purposes. Only feeding is allowed and people believe that a wish will come true if the turtles take the food you offer - so make sure that they are hungry when you visit them.

similar articles

Someone else's paradise (Topic: Maldives)


by Farah Mohammad

The Maldives are a popular destination for migrant workers from Bangladesh. But for many, the island paradise turns out to be a dead end. One man tells his story.


Ich und alle anderen (What's different elsewhere)

The calls of the gecko

by Sim Phally

About a special animal in Cambodia.


Above (In theory)

Pure and Local

by Nikolina Skenderija-Bohnet

There are only few things that impact our understanding of identity and belonging as much as food. But what do the dishes we choose, and the dishes we refuse, say about us? 


A story goes around the world (Books)

The subtle differences

by Manuela Lenzen

What makes a person human? The behavioural scientist Michael Tomasello compares humans with apes. His new book focuses early development in the first years of life and finds: they are like us!


Talking about a revolution (Topic: Resistance)

Tā Moko - Living Ancestors

by Kararaina Te Ira

For centuries, Māori in New Zealand have practiced the art of
tā moko, an indigenous tattooing practice. It goes far beyond simply decorating skin


Wir haben Zeit. Ein Heft über Langsamkeit (What's different elsewhere)

A passionate fish

by Cristino Bogado

About a special animal in Paraguay