Ganjam: In a bizarre incident, a poor couple at Baghua village under Jagannath Prasad block in the district was allegedly forced by fellow villagers to perform the last rites of their minor son though he is alive. The incident is said to have been the outcome of an age-old superstitious belief practiced in the village.
The boy has been identified as Jitu, the only son of Hari Chandra and Shanta Mallick.
According to reports, Jitu has been suffering from Hairy Nevus, a congenital problem that causes growth of hair on the face, chest and hand, since his birth. Residents in the village believe that the boy is a bad omen who would invite bad luck for them. It could be altered by performing his last rites even when he is alive.
Hari and Shanta allegedly gave in to the pressure of the villagers and were forced to perform the last rites of Jitu on Monday. They quietly performed all the rituals, tonsured the little boy’s head and organised a feast for the villagers.
“As such we are struggling to make our ends meet. We had to borrow Rs 10,000 to perform the last rites of our son who is still alive,” said a crest-fallen Hari.
It is worth mentioning that with help from the district administration Jitu had earlier undergone surgery at the Paediatric Surgery Department in the MKCG Medical College and Hospital to cure his condition. He returned to the village following the surgery but subsequently developed wounds all over his body. The villagers ostracised the family following the incident before finally forcing the parents perform his last rites.
(Names of the boy and his parents changed to protect identity)