A thread in their hands and a prayer on their lips | india | Hindustan Times
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A thread in their hands and a prayer on their lips

Devra never celebrated Rakhsha Bandhan, as there had been no girls in the 3,000-strong village of Bhati Rajputs. In over 110 years, the village, 80 km from Jaisalmer, in Rajasthan, reported the first marriage of a girl in 1997. Even today the child sex ratio here is a shameful 10 girls per 1,000 boys.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2011 00:08 IST
Hardev Singh Bhati

Devra never celebrated Rakhsha Bandhan, as there had been no girls in the 3,000-strong village of Bhati Rajputs. In over 110 years, the village, 80 km from Jaisalmer, in Rajasthan, reported the first marriage of a girl in 1997. Even today the child sex ratio here is a shameful 10 girls per 1,000 boys.

On Saturday, the dozen-odd girls of the village tied rakhis on 240 wrists to celebrate the north Indian festival that marks brother-sister affection.

Once known for killing every newborn girl, Devra is finally coming out. Though, it will take ages to eradicate the age-old practice and its effects.

A mother of a four-year-old, who did not want to be identified, described the method of the madness: "Newborn girls were killed by filling sand in their mouths and noses or by giving them high doses of opium."

The young girls, who survived, however, bring cheer. Pooja Kanwar, 14, said, "I do not have words to thank God who made it possible to celebrate this festival."

Brothers are delighted, too.

Keshar Singh, 8, said, "I felt jealous when I saw my friends from other villages sporting colourful rakhis. This year my sister tied a rakhi on my wrist."

Local schoolteacher, CP Pandit, 45, spells hope.

"Female infanticide in Devra is decreasing due to spread of education. I feel honoured to be teaching girl students and would like to see more of them attend school."