Nepal villagers flock to worship malformed baby as Hindu god

Januk Ghimire carries her 001 300x180 Nepal villagers flock to worship malformed baby as Hindu godThousands of people have flocked to a remote Nepalese village 2,000 metres up in the Himalayas to worship a baby born with four arms and four legs, revering him as the reincarnation of a Hindu god.

Villagers in the district of Ramechhap have said six-month-old Risab, who has a headless “parasitic twin” attached at the abdomen, is akin to the elephant god, Ganesh, whose various forms have between two and 16 arms.

“Some say he is like a god and they come to worship him and give money,” his 32-year-old father, Rikhi Ghimire, said. “They just give a few rupees, make an offering. Mostly the gifts are food and clothes. Others have said he looks like a monkey or is the child of a witch.”

About 5,000 people have visited the baby since he was born, according to local teacher Prem KC. He says some have walked or taken long bus journeys from faraway districts. A local Hindu priest has blamed the late and erratic monsoon rains on the baby.

“Some say it is a miracle or that it is God, and others say it is a curse. There is a lack of awareness so villagers cannot understand it,” Ghimire said.

Risab’s mother, Januk, who has two other sons, was in severe pain for five days before the delivery and thought she would die during labour. She gave birth in January on her porch with only her mother by her side. “When he was born I was frightened about what the other villagers would say,” she said. “If my husband hadn’t been there, I would have been scared they would say I was a witch and come and kill me.”

She says it is difficult to care for the child and even simple activities such as putting him to sleep, bathing or putting oil on him – a common practice for newborn babies in Nepal – are not easy.

The family live in a one-room house made of clay and stone and shared with goats and chickens, one day’s walk away from the nearest main town. Rikhi, who works in the fields all day, says he took Risab to a hospital in Kathmandu, the capital, where doctors said they would have to monitor him for six months. But as he could not afford to stay in the city, he was forced to return to the village with the baby.

Rikhi wants his son to have an operation so that he can have a “normal life”, but says the family cannot even afford to take him out of the country to seek surgical advice. “It’s not a small operation. It needs a huge amount of money which I cannot provide,” he said.

Dr Sujan Patan, a doctor at Kathmandu medical college, said it was the first case of its kind he had seen. “It may be possible to operate,” he said. Conjoined twins occur in about one in every 200,000 births, and their survival rate is usually around 25%.

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