A four-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh's Firozabad district is being worshipped as a goddess by villagers as she showed early signs of puberty and abnormal physical growth.
Little Rasna of Nagla Daya ki Thor village has been made to sit on a raised platform as villagers queue up to make offerings to the 'new goddess'.
Ram Babu, her father, has consulted doctors in Firozabad, 45 kms from here, and Lucknow and most of them are perplexed. "Medical opinion accepts hormonal disturbances around eight or ten years but at four, it's too baffling," said a doctor.
District officials said they could do nothing about superstitious beliefs. "No one has complained as nobody's interests are hurt. So if the villagers want to worship Rasna, it's their wish," said a senior police official.
People from nearby villages are flocking to see the girl who sits nonchalantly on her cot under a tree, surrounded by women who are both surprised and amused.
According to Ram Babu, the physical changes were first noticed four months ago.
Shivani Chaturvedi, a gynaecologist and endocrinologist, said Rasna should be subjected to a series of ultrasound tests and hormonal checks.
"My fear is that she probably has a tumour either in the brain or in her ovaries, which is responsible for release of excess oestrogen. This is a case of precocious puberty, which has to be addressed urgently in the interest of the girl's health," said Chaturvedi.
She added: "Cases of early puberty, at around eight-nine years, are becoming common in western countries due to changing lifestyles, but this case is plain abnormal."